In the midst of the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, a large part of the Steelers’ fanbase is uneasy. That unrest isn’t due to the upcoming draft or even free agent acquisitions, but instead the cause is their franchise quarterback’s future with the team.
Ben Roethlisberger‘s current contract has him locked up in the Steel City until 2016 when he would embark on free agency for the first time in his career. The lack of traction, or talks for that matter, have Steelers fans worried that their favorite quarterback could be headed out of town.
There are signs that point to a possible rift between Roethlisberger and the organization. The sheer fact that Roethlisberger’s current contract will count a shocking $18.9M against the current salary cap and no re-structuring or extension talks have been reported isn’t a good sign.
On top of the financial reasons, fans must realize that Roethlisberger isn’t just going to sign off the remainder of his career to Pittsburgh without being handsomely rewarded for what he has already accomplished as a player and might still contribute in the future. When players like Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are getting bigger deals than Roethlisberger and haven’t accomplished nearly as much, that only inflates the ticket price for a Roethlisberger extension.
Even with all those factors, the entire situation isn’t as dire as many fans expect. The Steelers have openly stated that Roethlisberger and his agent will not make it known whether the Steelers and their franchise quarterback will begin (or have already begun) talks on a possible extension. With Roethlisberger signed through 2015, there isn’t a rush from Steelers’ brass to get an extension or new contract ironed out right away, even if the fanbase is desperately clamoring for urgency.
When all is said and done, there is one factor that is the most important in this entire saga. That factor is that the Steelers need Roethlisberger to contend. The Steelers don’t have a backup plan in place if they plan on letting Roethlisberger walk when his contract expires, unless you think Bruce Gradkowski is the future at quarterback for the Steelers. Trust me, he isn’t.
Plain and simple, 6-foot-4, 245-pound quarterbacks who can make plays like Roethlisberger don’t grow on trees, and the Steelers realize that this situation is one where Roethlisberger holds all the chips. Some theorists have the Steelers getting a deal done with Roethlisberger by the end of training camp, while others see it happening after this season has concluded.
Either way you look at it, as long as the deal gets done and Roethlisberger retires a Pittsburgh Steeler, that’s all that matters.