Jul 23, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, United States;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) talks with defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) before drills during training camp at the Rooney UPMC Sports Performance Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Heyward takes offense to Big Ben’s jab at current players

Pittsburgh Steelers captain Cameron Heyward didn’t take too kindly to former teammate Ben Roethlisberger’s recent claim that too many current NFL players are “coddled” and have a “me-type attitude.”

Roethlisberger’s comments were published Friday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“The team was so important,” Roethlisberger said, referring to his first few seasons with the Steelers. “It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other.

“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know (former Miami of Ohio coach Terry) Hoeppner never coddled me. Neither did (former Steelers coach Bill) Cowher.”

Heyward, 33, was teammates with Roethlisberger from 2011 until the latter retired at the end of last season. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman admitted to being upset upon hearing the words of the former quarterback.

“It looks as though we are looked at as selfish players, and I don’t think that’s the point,” he said on the “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” podcast. “We have a lot of young players that come from different backgrounds, have experienced different things from what others or I may have experienced. That doesn’t make them selfish or more of a me-type attitude. … There are a lot more team-first guys than me-type attitude. I took offense to that.”

Heyward made it clear that he wasn’t throwing shade at Roethlisberger.

“Don’t say Cam is calling out Ben — it’s not like that,” Heyward said. “But I will say, I’ll protect my team. I will make sure that everybody knows that we care only about football on the field and less about off the field. We can all understand Ben has been a heck of a QB. You don’t do this game and become a Hall of Fame quarterback and do it at a low level.

“Ben has taken some hits not a lot of other teams could do. He saved us, he won games we weren’t supposed to win, and he’s always stepped up. But it was the team around him that helped him do it, and I don’t want anyone to ever forget that the whole team won — not just Ben.”

Roethlisberger, 40, moved into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list on Dec. 19.

The six-time Pro Bowl selection played his entire 18-year career in Pittsburgh, and he owns most of the franchise’s passing records, including completions (5,440), yards (64,088) and touchdowns (418). He led the Steelers to two Super Bowl victories.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before an AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers GM getting close look at 2022 QB class

In Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins we trust.

This has been the company line since the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger left the Pittsburgh Steelers in a relative no-man’s land at quarterback.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine there are starting-caliber quarterbacks available in the 2022 NFL Draft. But he also said the Steelers aren’t fretting the potential reality of playing the veterans on the roster.

Colbert witnessed multiple games played by Field Level Media’s top-ranked quarterback in the draft, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett. The team also spent time at the Senior Bowl with Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.

There are also veteran free agents who could be available, or trade targets at the position, whom the Steelers are vetting.

“We won’t narrow it to any one place, never have, never will,” Colbert said Tuesday in Indianapolis. “Quarterback is obviously a huge position in any given season, especially this season with our Hall of Fame quarterback calling it a career. Is it different this year? Yes. Is it going to change how we approach things? No. We have two vets in Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins who have started NFL games … and they’ve won games. We think we have two capable NFL quarterbacks. How we’ll add to that I can’t say.”

Beyond the quarterback position, a number of roster-build scenarios could play out for Pittsburgh, depending on the results of free agency. One of the team’s priorities has been to engage JuJu Smith-Schuster, who returned to the team in 2021 on a one-year deal.

“JuJu did a great comeback from the shoulder injury that he suffered,” Colbert said. “Much to our surprise, he was available to us late in the season as well as the playoff game. We commend him for doing that and putting his free agent thoughts aside and helping us win a playoff game. We take that into account. JuJu has been a great player for us.”

Colbert said he didn’t pause before endorsing the addition of Brian Flores to the coaching staff. Flores has a pending lawsuit against the NFL. Colbert said the litigation wasn’t a factor, but Flores’ resume was.

“Brian Flores has been a successful NFL head coach and defensive coordinator, and I was excited to have him,” he said. “As I mentioned to coach Flores when he first came into the office, I really like his background because he started out on the personnel (side).”

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) passes against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin: Steelers will consider all options to find new starting QB

The Pittsburgh Steelers have known who their quarterback was for most of the past 18 seasons.

But with Ben Roethlisberger expected to announce his retirement, there suddenly is plenty of uncertainty over the team’s quarterback position.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the team will consider a variety of options in which to find their new starting quarterback. Tomlin said he and general manager Kevin Colbert will discuss whether to proceed forward with an internal option, acquire a signal-caller via trade or free agency or select one in the NFL draft.

“All options are on the table,” Tomlin said during a media briefing two days after Pittsburgh’s season ended with a 42-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card game. “I enjoy working with Kevin this time of year because we speak plain English. We have to improve our football team. There’s two major ways you do it. You do it to free agency, and you do it through the draft.

“We have to look at what’s available to us in the draft positionally. And we have to look at what’s available to us, potentially, in free agency, positionally, and then we kind of bring those two discussions together. And it kind of gives us a path in which to go about addressing our needs.”

Replacing a future Hall of Famer like the 39-year-old Roethlisberger doesn’t seem insurmountable to Tomlin.

“I’m excited about that — that challenge,” Tomlin said. “Those of us that are competitors are. It’s a challenge, man. It kind of makes you uneasy. But I’ve learned to run to those challenges. I’ve learned to appreciate those challenges. The uncertainty surrounding them is inspiring to me in terms of producing work.”

One veteran quarterback who may be available via trade is Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterbacks who could become free agents include Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.

The internal options are Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins.

Rudolph is 5-4-1 in 10 starts over the past three seasons. Eight of those starts came in 2019 after Roethlisberger sustained a season-ending elbow injury. Rudolph passed for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions that year.

Haskins didn’t see any action for the Steelers this season. He went 3-10 as a starter over the previous two seasons for Washington before being released late in the 2020 campaign. He passed for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Mason and Dwayne have had their moments, but they’ll have to prove that,” Tomlin said about the possibility one of them could be the team’s next starter. “And not only in the team development process but through playing itself. They’re guys that start that I wouldn’t characterize as every-day starters. And so they’ll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there’s going to be competition. There always is.

“I think that both guys have positioned themselves to fight that fight with what they’ve done from a work standpoint and a professionalism standpoint in 2021.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers battle Browns in Ben Roethlisberger’s possible home finale

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are long shots that need a multitude of things to go right if they are to crack the AFC playoff field.

By the time the two AFC North rivals meet on Monday night in Pittsburgh, it will be an elimination game with the loser surely out of the mix and the winner facing slim odds to land one of the conference’s seven playoff spots.

The Steelers (7-7-1) enter the weekend with the 11th-best record in the AFC, while the Browns (7-8) hold the 12th position. In the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) are in the lead and the Baltimore Ravens (8-7) hold second place.

Making the situation dire is that six AFC teams already have at least nine victories and four others possess eight wins.

Adding to the atmosphere is the possibility that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be starting the final home game of his career.

The two-time Super Bowl champion is in the homestretch of his 18th season and can feel the clock ticking on his time in Pittsburgh.

“Looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing to this could be it,” the 39-year-old veteran said Thursday. “Regular season, that is — I know we still have a chance to potentially get a playoff game there if things fall our way and we take care of business and things have to happen.”

Roethlisberger ranks fifth in NFL history with 63,721 passing yards and eighth with 416 passing touchdowns. This season, he has passed for 3,373 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

With the crucial game looming, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who arrived in 2007, wasn’t ready to take a full trip down memory lane.

“To be honest with you, we don’t have enough time,” Tomlin said. “I mean, I’ve experienced 15 years of Hall of Fame-caliber play as it pertains to Ben. My focus and his focus this week is this game and preparing for this game and performing well in this game.

“I’m sure there will be an appropriate time in the future where I’ll get an opportunity to sing his praises, and I will gladly do so.”

Tomlin’s attention is on getting the Steelers out of a funk that has seen them go 2-4-1 over the past seven games. The Browns can relate, as they have dropped two straight contests and three of their past four.

Each of Cleveland’s last two defeats was by two points — to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15 and to Green Bay Packers last week.

Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett (career-best 15 sacks) is highly aggravated over his team’s plight.

“If you’re a Browns fan, you’re frustrated,” Garrett said. “If you’re a Browns player, you’re frustrated. If you have anything to do with us, you know that. We’ve had chances, we just haven’t converted or capitalized. I can’t tell you how frustrated we are or I am.”

Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield has come under fire for a subpar season in which he has 15 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions. Mayfield was picked off four times in the loss at Green Bay, and his wife, Emily, said her husband received death threats after the contest.

Baker Mayfield also has been booed at home for the first time in his four-year NFL career.

“There have been a lot of firsts for me this year, but that comes with the territory of the position that I’m in,” Mayfield said on Thursday. “I have to handle it the best I possibly can.”

Mayfield passed for 225 yards in a 15-10 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 31, when Pittsburgh scored the final 12 points. Roethlisberger passed for 266 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.

Cleveland activated four players from the COVID-19 protocol on Thursday, including center JC Tretter. Garrett (groin) was a limited practice participant while running back Kareem Hunt (ankle) was among the Browns who sat out.

For Pittsburgh, tight end Pat Freiermuth (concussion) was a full practice participant Thursday, but defensive end Chris Wormley (groin) missed the session. Both players sat out last week’s 36-10 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) signals they will go for two points against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. They converted and won the game 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger to address playing status after season

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger plans to discuss his playing status after this season.

Roethlisberger addressed the situation — well, somewhat — after Pittsburgh’s 20-19 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The topic was on the table after an ESPN report circulated that the 39-year-old had told some former teammates and those within the organization that he expects the 2021 season to be his last.

“I haven’t told everybody that, no,” Roethlisberger said. “Honestly, we just got done with this game, I’m exhausted. We play in a couple hours, it feels like. That’s my focus. My focus is on Minnesota and what we have to do to get ready.

“I’ll address any of that stuff after the season. I’ve always been a one-game-at-a-time, one-season-at-a-time person. I’m going to stay that way.”

Coach Mike Tomlin scoffed at the notion that Roethlisberger’s situation is a distraction for the Steelers (6-5-1).

“Ben doesn’t allow it to become an issue,” Tomlin said. “Ben has been pretty solid in terms of his expressions that he’s singularly focused on what we’re doing now. He’ll deal with those things on the other side of his journey, and I’m with him on it. So it’s not a distraction. I thought it was funny that it was seemingly a story this weekend, to be honest with you.”

Roethlisberger has played his entire 18-year career in Pittsburgh, and he owns most of the franchise’s passing records, including completions (5,319), yards (63,106) and touchdowns (412).

The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion has had one of his least productive seasons as a pro in 2021, throwing for 2,758 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jul 22, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, United States;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7 ) talks with head coach Mike Tomlin (right) during training camp at the Rooney UPMC Sports Performance Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin: Ben Roethlisberger is best QB for Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin came to the defense of struggling quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday.

When asked if the 39-year-old Roethlisberger is the best quarterback for the offense, Tomlin was quick with a response.

“Absolutely. What he does and what he’s done makes me really comfortable in saying that,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin also noted that Roethlisberger “has some hip issues” following Pittsburgh’s 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback also sustained a left pectoral injury following a 26-17 setback to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 19.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,033 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in four games for the Steelers (1-3), who have mustered just five offensive scores this season.

“It’s him some, it’s us collectively some,” Tomlin said. “We’re not looking to make excuses. We’ve had some big-play opportunities, we haven’t cashed in on them, and we need to cash in on them. They’re a big component to moving the ball and scoring, particularly when you’re not working as efficiently as you’d like on possession downs, which we aren’t. Chunk plays eliminate a lot of execution.”

Roethlisberger is playing in his 18th season in the NFL after signing a restructured contract that included a pay cut over the offseason. He’s spent the entirety of his pro career in Pittsburgh and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.

Mason Rudolph and former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins are Tomlin’s other options at quarterback.

Rudolph, 26, has thrown for 2,089 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 career games with the Steelers. He was selected by Pittsburgh in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Haskins, a 2019 first-round pick of the Washington Football Team out of Ohio State, was released last year in his second season with the team due to a combination of poor performance and a lack of professionalism.

Haskins, 24, signed a one-year deal with the Steelers in January.

He has completed 60.1 percent (267 of 444) of his passes for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 16 career games (13 starts).

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster before they play the Las Vegas Raiders at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ben’s status unclear as Steelers prep for Bengals

For 17 years, Ben Roethlisberger has been an obstacle the Bengals have seldom been able to get past. Whether the quarterback will be barring the way again remains in question as the Pittsburgh Steelers host Cincinnati at Heinz Field on Sunday.

Roethlisberger suffered a left pectoral injury during the Steelers’ Week 2 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. On Wednesday, Roethlisberger stayed in street clothes, didn’t participate in practice and admitted he hasn’t thrown a ball since that loss. But he also didn’t discount his chances to start.

“Today’s only Wednesday,” said Roethlisberger, who has thrown for 483 yards during the Steelers’ 1-1 start but also took 10 hits against the Raiders. “We have a lot of time to get ready to go.”

Cincinnati (1-1) is counting on facing Big Ben.

“We’re gonna prepare for their guys to play,” said Bengals coach Zac Taylor. “If they don’t, they have really good guys in place behind them.”

No one is behind in the AFC North, where all four teams have 1-1 records. That sets up the Bengals’ trip to Pittsburgh as a big early-season swing game inside the division. Cincinnati won an overtime game in Week 1, then lost a close game at Chicago in Week 2 after four turnovers — including three interceptions on three consecutive throws by Joe Burrow.

The second-year quarterback said he’s already put it in the past.

“Those guys get paid on defense too,” Burrow said. “You just put it behind you and move on to the next one.”

Burrow has been sacked nine times in just two games, second-most in the NFL, and the Bengals may try to offer more protection by leaning on running back Joe Mixon (196 rushing yards) against a defense that prioritizes getting to the QB. But Cincinnati’s plans often go awry at Pittsburgh, where it hasn’t won since 2015.

The Bengals snapped a 10-game losing skid to the Steelers in the second meeting last season, a 27-17 win in Cincy. But Roethlisberger is 24-8 in his career against this divisional rival; the win total is tied for the highest in the 39-year old’s career against a single team.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t sound concerned about Roethlisberger on Monday. Instead, his focus was on the first divisional matchup of the season.

“We got a hot kitchen this weekend in Pittsburgh. AFC North ball,” Tomlin said. “This is a coach’s week. We’ve got to work.”

Typically “AFC North ball” involves strong defense and a running game. The rushing attack hasn’t yet materialized for Pittsburgh with rookie first-round pick running back Najee Harris held to just 3.2 yards per carry in his first two NFL games. Pittsburgh enters last in the NFL with 57.0 rushing yards per game.

The Steelers will also be working to shore up a dinged-up defense. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt, with his team-leading 3.0 sacks, was limited by a groin injury on Wednesday, as were cornerbacks Joe Haden (groin) and Justin Layne (Achilles). Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (groin), defensive end Carlos Davis (knee), and receiver Diontae Johnson (knee) were all non-participants. Nose tackle Tyson Alualu also went on injured reserve this week with an ankle fracture.

The good news for the Steelers was linebacker Devin Bush (groin) was a full participant.

The Bengals were missing a trio of key players on Wednesday. Wide receiver Tee Higgins (shoulder), cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring), and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (knee) all did not participate.

The Bengals believe they’ve improved from a year ago. Getting a second straight win against Pittsburgh, which hasn’t happened since 2012-13, would go a long way toward proving it. Taylor sidestepped the specific matchup, but acknowledged it was a key measuring stick game.

“Getting a road win, versus a division opponent … yeah, that does mean a lot in that way,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt (90) defends a pass against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger lobbies for paying T.J. Watt

Ben Roethlisberger sees no ceiling on the financial value of outside linebacker T.J. Watt and implored the Pittsburgh Steelers to open the coffers and meet the pass rusher’s contract demands.

“I think T.J. Watt should get whatever the heck he wants. He’s arguably the best football player in the game right now, not just on defense but in general,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “I’ve been through a few negotiations here with contracts. One of the reasons was so he could get paid. He deserves every penny that he wants, asks for. T.J. Watt is ‘that guy’ and should get whatever he wants.”

With the Steelers in dire straits against the salary cap, Roethlisberger, 39, took a pay cut to return to the team in 2021.

Watt, 26, has been a participant in team and position meetings but avoided on-field workouts all offseason.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said Watt would practice Wednesday and be available for the Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Watt’s physical readiness is not known, but Tomlin voiced optimism he would be ready to play a significant role after leading the NFL with 15 sacks last season. He is a two-time All-Pro.

Reports surfaced Tuesday indicating Watt and the Steelers remained in a staredown over guarantees beyond the first year of the contract.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says he suggested pay cut

Ben Roethlisberger could see there was a road back for an 18th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that meant there was a price to be paid.

So Roethlisberger approached management to discuss his willingness to accept a pay cut and the meetings resulted in a $5 million reduction that cut his salary to $14 million for 2021.

“It was my idea,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “I told them I want to help the team out however we can. I went to them and told them I would do whatever I can to help the team sign guys who are going to help us win football games. I have been extremely blessed to play this game for a long time.”

Roethlisberger has started 231 of 233 regular-season games played for Pittsburgh and couldn’t envision himself in a different uniform.

He was a first-round draft choice (No. 11 overall) in the famous 2004 NFL Draft that included Eli Manning and Philip Rivers also being high selections. Roethlisberger wanted to end his career with the same team in which started.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere. That is why I told the Rooneys and Coach (Mike) Tomlin I want to be here,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. This is home to me. I will always bleed black and gold. Almost half of my life has been here playing football for the Steelers.

“That is why I told them I would take a pay cut to stay here because this is what I believe in, this group, this city. This is home. I am honored to have my career be here.”

Roethlisberger has earned two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and ranks seventh all-time with 60,348 regular-season passing yards and eighth with 396 touchdowns.

Last season was up and down for him after he returned from a serious elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Roethlisberger guided the Steelers to an 11-0 start before the team lost four of its last five regular-season games and then was booted out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Browns in the AFC wild-card game.

He passed for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 games but admitted to being worn down late in the season.

“I didn’t play well enough at the end of the season,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s no secret, and I’ll be the first to point the thumb at myself. When you have the ball in your hand every play, you have to make plays and play better football. If the quarterback isn’t playing good football, especially late in the season, it’s directly related to winning and losing.”

As for whether he will play past 2021, Roethlisberger doesn’t have an answer yet. He turns 40 in March.

“I want to approach this like I do every season — like it’s my last,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that is the approach you have to take. You don’t approach it that way because it could be your last, you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last. Every game in football could be your last game.

“That just means I’m going to give everything I have. I’ve never looked toward the future. I’ve always looked toward the right here and right now. That’s what is important for me for this season. I want to give everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers agree to team-friendly contract

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed a restructured contract Thursday to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2021 season.

The Steelers and Roethlisberger worked to reduce his NFL-high salary cap number for 2021 of $41.25 million, but terms of the new deal weren’t immediately known.

Multiple reports Thursday indicate the pay reduction is significant and eliminated a $15 million roster bonus due later this month. Roethlisberger turned 39 on March 2.

“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” Steelers vice president and general manager Kevin Colbert said in a team-issued statement Thursday. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same — to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

Roethlisberger’s 18th season with the team will allow him to add to franchise records, including 233 career starts. He returned in 2020 from a season-ending elbow injury that required surgery in 2019 and led the Steelers to the playoffs despite sputtering in December.

After an 11-0 start with 25 touchdown passes, Roethlisberger had eight touchdowns and four interceptions in the final four games, sitting out the regular-season finale against the Browns.

“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” Roethlisberger said in a statement. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team to address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

He threw for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 games last season. The two-time Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl selection met with Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney after the season ended.

Even with Roethlisberger back, big changes are in store for the roster. Center Maurkice Pouncey retired and the Steelers have four offensive line regulars ticketed for free agency. Running back James Conner is not expected to return in free agency and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is also headed for the open market.

Smith-Schuster has been considered a possible candidate for the franchise tag.

–Field Level Media