It’s widely known that the Steelers don’t normally negotiate with players once training camp begins, and certainly not when the season starts. The team definitely could have extended Ben Roethlisberger this offseason had they chose to do so, but team president Art Rooney II says the team will address his contract after the 2014 season.
“I met with Ben shortly before we did the Maurkice Pouncey signing just to make sure Ben understood where we were with our intentions as far as a contract extension for him,” said Rooney via Steelers.com. “I just didn’t want him to feel like we were moving ahead with other players without any communication.”
So, sometime before June 12th, the Steelers reached out to Ben and his agent Ryan Tollner to let them know they wouldn’t be extending his contract this year.
“And so I talked to Ben, and then we talked with his agent Ryan Tollner about where we are and the fact we intend on addressing Ben’s contract situation after the season, so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014. I think Ben understands that’s our intention and the way we’d like to proceed. I think we had a good conversation.”
The impact of a Roethlisberger extension on this year’s salary cap would have been minimal. The cap is projected to increase for at least the next couple years, and according to Rooney, that had an influence on the team’s decision to wait to extend him. “We believe the cap will go up again next year,” said Rooney, “and so from a cap planning standpoint, next year will be a better situation for us to address a franchise quarterback type of contract.”
Mr. Rooney added that maintaining a winning roster for their franchise quarterback was paramount.
“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.
“We also talked to Ryan, just so that there was communication with him as well, so that they understood the direction in which we wanted to proceed. We wanted to make sure they were understanding that we do want to make a commitment, that we do want to address Ben’s contract next year. It’s not a situation where we’re saying we want to put it on hold. We did assure him that next year is the time frame in which we want to address it.”
One thing is very likely: the value of Ben’s contract extension will be much higher after this season.