Ben Roethlisberger's next contract will wait until 2015
Ben Roethlisberger's next contract will wait until 2015
By Chris Wesseling
Around the League Writer
Published: July 25, 2014
Ben Roethlisberger said Thursday that he has a "really good feeling" about the upcoming season.
That optimism is due in large part to the Pittsburgh Steelers prioritizing an improved roster over a new mega contract for their quarterback.
Team president Art Rooney II explained Friday that Roethlisberger has been informed the Steelers will not extend his contract until after the 2014 season, when salary-cap space becomes available.
Big Ben has two years remaining on an eight-year, $102 million deal signed in 2008, whereas as other key players, such as center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Jason Worilds, had more pressing contract issues this past offseason.
"Yes, all of those things are factors in the decision," Rooney explained, via the team's official website. "The other key thing is that Ben wants to be part of a winning team, to be in a position to compete for championships, and he understands that in order to do that we need to try to keep as many of the other players around as we can.
"So, addressing the players who are going into the final years of their contracts in 2014 makes sense. That's what he and I talked about."
Roethlisberger is willing to remain underpaid by current franchise-quarterback standards because he wants the strongest roster possible for a shot at a third Super Bowl ring.
As one of the NFL's five best quarterbacks, he is line for at least $50 million in guarantees with a $20 million annual salary on his next contract.
Ron Cook: Ben Roethlisberger eyes prize above deal
July 25, 2014
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger enters yet another training camp, but this time with a young defense and new faces on offense.
In Ben Roethlisberger's perfect world, he gets a rich contract extension before the NFL season opens Sept. 7 at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns and another world championship when it ends Feb. 1 in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. But if he had to choose between the two, he would take another ring, No. 3, for his big right hand. That is the competitor inside him. Roethlisberger reports today to Saint Vincent College for Steelers training camp and the start of his second decade as the team's quarterback. If that doesn't make you feel old, nothing will. Roethlisberger knows he's fairly deep into the back nine of his football career. Now, more than ever, he is driven by wins and championships. The money is going to come, anyway.
"I like where we are as a team. I really do," Roethlisberger said. "I have a really good feeling about this season."
OK, so Roethlisberger isn't going to say he expects the Steelers to stink. There's just no way. But they went 8-8 and missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons. So is Roethlisberger dreaming or is his optimism legitimate? The opinion here is it's completely legitimate. The Steelers are capable of going 11-5 -- maybe better -- and winning the AFC North Division.
Although the defense is young in spots, it also is much quicker and should be much better than the overmatched unit that last season, on its worst day and the worst in franchise history, gave up 55 points and 610 yards in an embarrassing loss against the New England Patriots. The offense -- Roethlisberger's no-huddle offense -- has a chance to be dynamite. It was fairly explosive in the second half of last season when it helped the team average more than 28 points per game. Who knows what would have happened if Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop had made the 41-yard field goal to beat the San Diego Chargers on the final Sunday and nudge the Steelers into the postseason? Their offense was good enough to win a playoff game, maybe two. It should be even better this season.
"I'm really happy with our O-line," Roethlisberger said. "I think they have a chance to be great."
Hall of Famer Mike Munchak, maybe the Steelers' best free-agent addition of the offseason, was brought in to coach the group. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is back after missing all but eight plays last season because of a knee injury. Roethlisberger was thrilled when Pouncey signed a new six-year, $48 million contract in June. "I told him I can't wait to see my Christmas present this year." Right guard David DeCastro has the look of an All-Pro. Left guard Ramon Foster is solid. Young tackles Marcus Gilbert, Kelvin Beachum and Mike Adams are a year older and wiser. The line, even without Pouncey, was strong at the end of last season, allowing just seven sacks in the final seven games after allowing 36 in the first 11. That's why Roethlisberger was able to play every offensive snap, the first time he played in all 16 games since 2008.
The improved offensive line is just one reason the running game should have a big impact. Another is the maturity of second-year back Le'Veon Bell, who averaged 24 touches and 104 combined yards in the final eight games last season. Two more reasons are the additions of power back LeGarrette Blount and speed back Dri Archer. "I'm really excited about where the running game is headed to," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger took the wide receivers to California in the spring "to work" and develop chemistry. Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders left as free agents after last season, taking 113 catches, 1,342 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns with them. Team MVP Antonio Brown is back, but free-agent Lance Moore must step in and second-year pro Markus Wheaton must step up. Roethlisberger singled out practice-squad player Justin Brown for his work in the offseason. A healthy Heath Miller also will help after his numbers dropped from 71 catches, 816 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 to 58 catches, 593 yards and one touchdown last season when he came back from a serious knee injury. Roethlisberger has called Miller and Cotchery his two best teammates.
Roethlisberger is excited because the Steelers are expected to use the no-huddle offense as their base offense. It was a big part of their second-half success last season. "The tempo we can do with the no-huddle kind of slows defenses down," Roethlisberger said. "They can't be quite as exotic calling all of their blitzes and doing crazy things because you're playing at such a fast pace. They have to be more basic. That's to our advantage."
Give offensive coordinator Todd Haley credit for setting aside his ego and allowing Roethlisberger to run the game plan they put together during the week. It has helped the two to develop a much closer relationship. Roethlisberger had balked when Haley took over for his pal, Bruce Arians, before the 2012 season. "I enjoy working with [Haley]," Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan. "You see it on the field. You'll continue to see it because my play will be better, the play-calling will be better, everything will be better."
Roethlisberger has two years left on the eight-year, $102 million contract he signed before the 2008 season. He has said many times he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh. "I'd sure like to get something done so I can be set and be done here."
But a new contract isn't on Roethlisberger's mind today. The start of a new season is here. There are games to be won, a championship, perhaps. The Steelers are a 33-1 choice to win Super Bowl XLIX, slightly better than division rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati, both 40-1. The Steelers are a long way from being the favorites -- the defending champion Seattle Seahawks are 6-1 -- but Roethlisberger isn't complaining. "I like when they underestimate us. We'll just play and see what happens."
If the past 10 years have taught us anything, it is this: Never bet against Roethlisberger.
That applies this season as much as any season.
Please don't post anything that Mike Florio has to say about this. I beg you all.
Pittsburgh, PA: City of Champions.
Gotta give this a +1!
Originally Posted by DBR96A
I hope he proves how committed he is to allowing the rest of the roster to be the best it can when next offseason rolls around. Talk all you want about it now, but next year is when we will really find out.
In this day of me-first it sure is refreshing to see a millionaire team leader take a big-picture view of things.
Without a few of these kinds of players, the Steelers are no better than the Browns or Bengals.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger opens up about no-huddle, contract, Ray Rice
July 26, 2014
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley were embroiled in a deep discussion today. The Steelers offensive coordinator talked about doing it one way and the quarterback said he would not do it at all.
“He talked to me about water skiing,” Roethlisberger said. “He said he went barefoot skiing and is still feeling the pain.”
Roethlisberger will not test his feet or knees by water skiing at age 32, but he knows all about the growing pains of working with a new offensive coordinator. Things did not go smoothly between them their first season in 2012, but that relationship advanced so far since the middle of last season that the quarterback says he now calls Haley a friend.
“Very rarely in life in general do you meet someone and hit it off and you’re best friends right away,” Roethlisberger said during a lengthy interview today. “There’s always a feeling-out period, especially when you have people who are guarded because of their profession, just who we are.
“But I think we are friends. Obviously, work is always first, but I think we’re getting along great.”
The Steelers offense should benefit from it.
At 32, Roethlisberger feels like a kid again. He has coaches who seem to finally agree to take the no-huddle offense from the back burner and make it a more important part of their game plan. He worked with a personal trainer and a nutritionist this year for the first time and has his weight down and endurance up. And he concentrated on strengthening his right arm.
“My arm is stronger than it’s been in my career, I believe. Even in [spring] practices and minicamp the receivers said, ‘Ben that ball is getting to us a lot quicker, with a lot more spin on it, it feels real good.’ That should translate into better play.”
Why now with all the offseason work?
“I felt like the time is right. That youth wears off. You start getting to 32, it’s time. As your body deteriorates, your natural talents start to go a little bit. You have to bring in physical working out, building, taking protein and doing extra stuff.
“I want this year to be my best year and if I have to do extra things I’m going to do it.”
Last season turned into a pretty good year for the quarterback, but one he could not savor because the Steelers went 2-6 in the first half and finished a second consecutive 8-8. But that 6-2 second half may have set the table for 2014, especially when it comes to running the no-huddle.
Previous coaches such as Bruce Arians talked a good game when it came to the no-huddle but for one reason or another would not commit to it. Haley did that in the second half of last season and it produced all kinds of benefits, including many fewer sacks of Roethlisberger, a better run game and more victories.
The quarterback spoke to his offensive coaches and Mike Tomlin about it after the season.
“The no-huddle was always in but it was always sitting back here on the back burner -- keep it warm for week five or six or whenever we needed it, if we needed it.
“I said, ‘Guys, the way the season ended last year, to me, our best offense is the no-huddle.’ I still understand we have to run the ball, we have to bring in three tight ends, you have to have short yardage. But when we were at our best, we were in the no-huddle.
“This needs to be an integral part of our offense, maybe not our base offense but it needs to be something that’s not just sitting on the back burner.”
The coaches bought it, then implemented it during spring practices. Ben Roethlisberger was made for the no-huddle and finally, they’re going to let him run it more often than in the two-minute drill or when they get behind.
It also had the benefit of keeping their quarterback upright for a change. He was sacked just seven times in the final seven games of 2013, the safest seven-game stretch of his career.
“When you’re in the no-huddle and converting, the defense has to back down, they can’t call their crazy stuff. That’s to your advantage as an offense. You see the Denver Broncos, the Patriots and these guys run this stuff and it’s so successful because it slows defenses down.”
Roethlisberger touched on a number of other topics during today’s interview. Among them:
• He reacted to Friday’s statement by Steelers president Art Rooney II that they would not negotiate a contract extension for him this year, but next. Traditionally, the Steelers have signed their starting quarterback to an extension while he still had two years left on his current deal, as Roethlisberger does now.
“As I put my faith and trust in them, when the time is right, we’ll get it done. Now I can just concentrate on football.”
• On what he said in a text to agent Ryan Tollner after the Steelers drafted linebacker Ryan Shazier and not a wide receiver in the first round in May.
“I asked who he was. Honestly, I never heard of him, Ryan Shazier.”
He said people wrongly assumed he was unhappy with the pick.
“It was more, ‘Give me info on this guy.’ Ryan knows about every player, pretty much. ‘What do you know?’ If he can help this team – which I’ve seen so far I think he can – I’m not at all [upset]. Right now, I think he’s going to be a big help for us. I can’t wait until we put the pads on, that will be a key, but he looks pretty good.”
• On the two-game suspension NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave Baltimore halfback Ray Rice for knocking out his girlfriend and dragging her unconscious from an elevator, all caught on tape and duly charged by the authorities:
“I read a lot of the comments about how people are saying for drugs or marijuana you get four games and for this you don’t. We all know the league has its reasons for things and they’re the say-all. As long as they don’t cut it down to one, I guess we won’t see him.”
The Steelers play at Baltimore in the second game of the season.
Column: Ben smiles through another snub
July 26, 2014
By Dejan Kovacevic
LATROBE, Pa. – Ben Roethlisberger looks and sounds fantastic, but don’t take my word for it.
“This is the most excited I’ve been about any offense I’ve had,” Todd Haley was telling me as he walked down the winding path to Chuck Noll Field for the Steelers’ first formal practice Saturday at Saint Vincent College. “Seriously, I mean any offense.”
Wow. And what, apart from the standard summer optimism, would prompt that sentiment?
“Have you seen Ben?”
Similarly, and also before that practice, Markus Wheaton came back with this when I asked what might make the offense special this fall: “Oh, Ben will do that. Just wait.”
All right, then. So the first phase of that wait ended at 2:55 p.m. when Mike Tomlin led 89 men onto the field, to the delight of the 4,000 or so diehards delightedly sweating through a searing sun. And Roethlisberger did, indeed, deliver. He ducked and dodged effortlessly, fired bullet after bullet, showed chemistry with everyone from Antonio Brown to Justin Brown and all Lance Moores in between. It was still football in shorts — the pads are donned for the tackle variety Monday — but it was as impressive a display as one could conceive in the setting.
“He’s ready,” Tomlin would say afterward. “He’s ready to go.”
Sure is. In every way.
Let’s not sweep this under the rug, Pittsburgh: If Roethlisberger had wanted, he could have made one seriously enormous stink over Art Rooney II’s public declaration Friday that the Steelers will not try to extend the contract of their franchise quarterback. It might only have taken a certain expression on his face. Or an intonation of his voice. He could have sent out a signal that he wished he’d been treated as are most star QBs in the NFL, and he’d have had the whole city — no, the whole Nation — in an uproar. We wouldn’t just be talking about a camp distraction. We’d be talking about ripping out the foundation of the franchise.
Roethlisberger could have put himself first. And with no small justification, given his credentials.
Are you buying that Roethlisberger will just flick this aside?
I’ll be candid: I’m not.
On June 12, when I asked his thoughts on an extension the same day Maurkice Pouncey got his six years and $48 million, this was the answer: “I can only control what I control. I’m here to play football. If there’s something important that happens, then I’ll let my agents tell me. But other than that, I just have to play the game.” Unless I’m mistaken, there wasn’t anything in there about “faith” that the front office will do the right thing in 2015 or about “putting people on the field through free agency” or about being “the best team we can possibly be.” That guy on that day was hoping for an extension that would allow him to fulfill what I believe is a genuine, heartfelt wish to spend his full career in Pittsburgh.
There is no doubt in my mind Roethlisberger wanted that extension now, rather than when entering the lame-duck season of his current contract.
Hence, there’s no doubt in my mind that Roethlisberger is disappointed. Perhaps deeply so.
I’ll go further: Some of what was in Rooney’s statement was sheer malarkey. (And no, not Mike Mularkey, wiseguy.)
Rooney wrote that he met with Roethlisberger right before the Pouncey signing to explain that a Roethlisberger extension would be put off “so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014.”
Not many among us are capologists, but it doesn’t require being Omar Khan to see that, even though Roethlisberger is making $12.1 million this season — sixth-most among all NFL QBs — he counts $18.9 million against the cap. Even if Roethlisberger had signed for terms approximating those of the Ravens’ Joe Flacco (six years, $120.6 million) or the ridiculous amount the Bears are paying Jay Cutler (seven years, $126.7 million), there’s precious little chance he’d have counted a penny more against the cap in 2014.
Now, the Steelers almost surely will have more space in 2015 because of a growing cap, as Rooney indicated in the statement. But here, too, extra cap space in 2015 has nil impact on 2014.
If you ask me, this was yet another power move by the front office. And it’s another in a series, not least of which was firing Bruce Arians a couple years ago, then instructing Roethlisberger he had to change his game, then basically ignoring his pleas to add big-time receiving help.
And in the more general sense, this was Rooney declaring that he won’t be backed against a wall to extend any player, even Roethlisberger, until that player has only one year left on a contract.
Say what you will about the merits of that mindset, but let’s at least call it what it is.
At any rate, here’s Roethlisberger again saying all the right things, doing all the right things. Just as he has in advancing his relationship with Haley to the point the two call each other “friend.” This offseason, he’s dropped some weight — he declined to tell me how much — to ensure he still has his trademark mobility at age 32, he’s emerged as a leader in every sense, and he sounds eminently determined to carry the Steelers, if need be, past the 8-8 stigma.
Right now, that matters more than anything.
“I’m looking to move. I think we all are,” Roethlisberger said when I broached 8-8. “This is a new season, a new group, a young group, a fun group, and I’m so excited to be part of it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Good for him. Better for the Steelers.
Rossi: Roethlisberger staging big comeback
By Rob Rossi
Friday, July 25, 2014
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during OTA practice Wednesday, June 11, 2014 on the South Side.
We're watching another comeback by Ben Roethlisberger. This one, though, almost nobody thought was possible.
Basically what happened Friday before players reported to training camp was Steelers president Art Rooney II put out word that his franchise quarterback would not receive a contract extension this season — but that Roethlisberger all but is guaranteed to finish his career with the only NFL team he has known.
“I think Ben understands our intentions and our commitment to getting his contract done next offseason,” Rooney said in a statement.
There is no way Rooney would release that statement without the approval of Roethlisberger and his representatives. There is no way the Steelers would have final say right now on this matter — likely the last contract for the second-greatest quarterback in franchise history — without Roethlisberger wanting Rooney to quell possible controversy.
There is no way Roethlisberger didn't end his June chat with Rooney knowing he would be taken care of by the Steelers, even barring an injury this season.
Actually, the Steelers have taken care of Roethlisberger. By playing out this season, he will have collected nearly $90 million of the $100 million pledged to him on his second contract.
The Steelers also have taken care of Roethlisberger in ways he appears to appreciate, and that might be the biggest reason he trusts the Rooney family to send him out properly.
He's still their quarterback, right? That was hardly a lock four years ago. Then, Roethlisberger arrived at camp looking at a possible six-game suspension because of a second round of sexual-assault allegations. Word that Dan Rooney was furious — to the point of wanting Roethlisberger out of the Steelers family — wasn't exactly a whisper.
Six games were cut to four, and Roethlisberger led the Steelers to their third Super Bowl under his tenure. They lost, but he started to rack up some more important wins.
Now a husband and father of two children, Roethlisberger is 32 and entering his 11th season. This is the fourth quarter of a career that could place him in elite company.
Already one of only three quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls with two different coaches, Roethlisberger can set up the Steelers for a few more Super runs by resisting the temptation to get greedy when contract negotiations resume next offseason.
Greed can be costly. It can ruin something special.
Roethlisberger has spent the past three years rebuilding a reputation that was wrecked. He hasn't been perfect, as was evident by the rocky start of his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but he's been pretty good.
Just look at him.
Roethlisberger arrived at camp in the best shape of his career. He's not the first to do so, but Roethlisberger looks like he has overhauled everything, especially eating and workout habits.
When was the last time Roethlisberger didn't accept the burden of typically insane expectations for the Steelers? When was the last time he tossed a teammate or assistant coach under the bus? When was the last time somebody said something bad about his actions on or off the field?
When was the last time he wasn't what Pittsburghers expect of a Steeler?
Unless we've been watching an amazingly scripted stage play the past three years, Roethlisberger has grown into a humble, hard-working leader of this proud franchise. All that's left to do is for him to give a hometown discount on his last contract.
If he does, the Steelers are obligated to spend for the weapons he needs to seek Super Bowls instead of denying him an opportunity to rediscover greatness after the early glory days.
Roethlisberger is going to retire as a Steeler. He may retire as the Steeler of his generation or a Steeler for any generation.
The quarterback with 29 winning drives in the fourth quarter has the ball. We're watching a career-defining comeback.
If he can somehow survive 5 more seasons, he just might be able to get to 4 Super Bowl wins with the young talent that has been infused.