SteelerNation.com

Roethlisberger Set To Return In 2018

By Mike Ashcraft
SteelerNation.com

After a 36-17 loss to the New England Patriots in the 2016 AFC Championship Game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hinted that retirement could be in the cards after 13 years in the NFL.

The two-time Super Bowl winning signal caller ultimately donned the black & gold again in 2017, guiding the Steelers to a 13-3 record and another AFC North title. Roethlisberger shook off a rough start to the season in which he threw six touchdown passes and seven interceptions over the first five weeks to finish with 28 touchdown strikes and 14 picks en route to a fourth-straight Pro Bowl selection.

On Sunday after another painful postseason defeat, this time at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars by a 45-42 score in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Roethlisberger was singing a different tune than he was a year ago.

“I definitely have a desire to play football,” said Roethlisberger. “I love this game. I love these guys. It’s tough. It stings. You hate losing. You hate to lose at home. I feel bad because I feel like I let the fans down, I let my teammates down. You know, the fans, we gave them so much to enjoy and cheer for this year. But to lose this at home … I know there will be some that say we had a great season and thanks for the ride. But a lot of them are disappointed like we are. It wasn’t enough. And I feel bad for that. I feel like I let a lot of people down. And I’ll take it all on myself. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. And I will be – I don’t know about contracts and who’s coming back, but I know the guys up front are, so that makes it good for me — so I look forward to next year with those guys.”

According to Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com, the Steelers are interested in signing Roethlisberger to a contract extension. His current deal is set to expire in 2019. His salary cap hit is currently scheduled to go from $18.2 million to $23.2 million in both 2018 and ’19. Lolley reports that Pittsburgh has interest in adding one, and maybe even two, more seasons to Roethlisberger’s current deal to bring that cap hit down.

The caveat to a potential new deal between the Steelers and Roethlisberger could be that offensive coordinator Todd Haley not return to Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff in 2018. There have been several reports of friction through the years between Roethlisberger and Haley, who has directed the offense since taking over for Bruce Arians in 2012.

A logical replacement for Haley could be Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, who has been a member of Tomlin’s offensive staff since 2007 and is said to have a strong rapport with Roethlisberger. Lolley also suggested former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as a potential candidate to replace Haley.

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