On the eve of the 2019 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh Steelers have signed Ben Roethlisberger to a 2 year extension which binds him to the team through the 2021 season. While extending Ben Roethlisberger’s contract has been one of the Steelers 2019 off season goals, it is unusual for the team to conclude such a deal so close to the NFL draft.
Terms of the deal have not yet been published, but any contract will likely keep Ben Roethlisberger among the highest paid NFL signal callers as well as giving the Steelers short-term salary cap relief.
- The timing of the two events could merely be a coincidence, or the Steelers could be setting themselves up for a draft-day move.
It is impossible to say at this point and to some degree it is irrelevant. Ben Roethlisberger is 37 and his new contract will carry him through his 39th birthday, virtually ensuring that he will play is entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Let’s Just Enjoy This Steelers Nation
Today’s signing marks Ben Roethlisberger’s 4th contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers following his rookie deal, his 2008 contract and his 2015 extension. While it is tempting to label this as “Ben Roethlisberger’s Last Contract” one never knows in today’s NFL.
But even if it is not, Ben Roethlisberger’s last contract, Steelers fans need to treat as if it is.
- What does that mean? Enjoy the ride while it lasts, Steelers Nation.
The 2019 off season has not been kind to Ben Roethlisberger. He’s endured a wave of criticism not seen since 2010 when the word “Midgeville” entered the vernacular in Steelers Nation.
Aided and abetted by a national media interested in sensationalism rather than serious journalism, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have painted Ben Roethlisberger is the villain in their conflicts with the team. Josh Harris and Rashard Mendenhall have joined the pile on, accuing Ben Roethlisberger of everything from intentionally fumbling to being a racist.
- Fortunately, few in Pittsburgh or Steelers Nation pay this narrative much mind.
But that doesn’t change the fact that a large chunk of Steelers fans seem to take it for granted that Pittsburgh has the luxury of employing the services of a franchise quarterback.
- Have the Pittsburgh Steelers taken steps back since knocking on heaven’s door in the 2016 AFC Championship?
Yes, they have. But rebuilding when you have a franchise quarterback in place is not easy, and it makes it all the more harder when you lose your best defender just as he’s reaching the prime of his career. While Ben Roethlisberger could be one of those players who “gets old fast,” as Hines Ward did, he’s shown few signs of losing a step in the race with Father Time.
- That in and of itself, gives the Steelers chance.
When I was 10 years old, my brother told me that Terry Bradshaw wasn’t as good as he used to be, because he was “Getting old.” When I’d heard he wasn’t playing the next season because of an injury, I actually thought that was a good thing, because that meant Cliff Stoudt, someone younger, would naturally be better…
…I was in the 4th grade when that happened. By the time the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger, I’d graduated college, graduate school, done a year of volunteer service, and had lived abroad for 3 years in Argentina.
I’m old enough to remember watching Mark Malone and Bubby Brister play, old enough to remember thinking that the likes of Neil O’Donnell and Kordell Stewart were significant upgrades over the former duo.
- They were. But you could meld all four quarterbacks together and still not get a player equal to Ben Roethlisberger.
At age 37 and now playing in his 4th contract, Big Ben has indeed reached his 11th hour. Let’s agree to enjoy that final hour.