What Ben Roethlisberger’s Contract Extension Could Look Like

Coming into the 2019 off-season, one of the main topics for the Steelers was the inevitable contract extension for Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are pressed up against the cap almost every year, but this year they had some additional room, making getting Big Ben’s extension done less time sensitive, as they were able to make necessary moves without using his extension to lower their cap figure. Also making his contract extension less time sensitive, was the need to extend Maurkice Pouncey, and resign Ramon Foster. Ben made it clear he wanted Pouncey’s contract situation taken care of, as they have been paired together for the last nine seasons. Now that Pouncey has been extended, there is a good chance they will finish their careers together. Foster’s extension is icing on the cake, as keeping one of the best offensive lines in the league intact is key to protecting, and possibly negotiating with, Roethlisberger.

Andrew Rush – Post-Gazette

In 2015, Ben signed a four year, 87 million dollar extension, which made him the second highest paid player in the league on a per season basis. It is unlikely that he will become the second highest paid quarterback again, but he will likely get an increase in pay, at least on a per year basis. Similarly to how Drew Brees did last off-season, it is likely Roethlisberger will take a slight hometown discount while staying in Pittsburgh. Brees signed a two year deal worth 50 million dollars last off-season, and that average per season will likely be similar to Ben’s figure.

Ben Roethlisberger’s 2015 Contract Extension – Spotrac

There are two paths the Steelers can go down for the extension for Big Ben. The first path would be a two year deal, which would lead to Ben riding off into the sunset after another three years in the Burgh. This is likely the time-frame in which Ben plans to retire (if not one year sooner), and would result in no additional cap hit without him on the roster, or only one year of it remaining after he retires. The Steelers do contracts differently than most teams, as they tend to only guarantee the signing bonus to players. The likely structure for Ben’s contract in this scenario would be a two year extension, with a 30-40 million dollar signing bonus, and turn most of his salary this season into signing bonus as well. That would result in the Steelers gaining approximately 4-5 million in cap savings for this season. It would also result in higher cap numbers for the next two seasons, but without the 21+ million of dead money left by Antonio Brown’s contract in future seasons, it shouldn’t be a problem for them.

The second path would be to extend Ben with an additional four years added onto his contract. This scenario would give the most cap relief for this season, as well as the next one to two seasons he would play. It is highly unlikely Ben plays past his age 39 season based on comments he has made, which means this four year extension would result in him retiring with at least two years left. This would mean the final two years of cap hit would all land on the 2022 season. I’ll get into what that might mean in a little, but in this contract would have similar structure to the one presented earlier. This extension would likely have a 40+ million dollar signing bonus, as well as convert his current salary to a bonus similarly to the first option. Spreading all that money over the five years of the deal, would mean lowering his cap hit from the 23.2 million it is now, down to the 15-16 million range, saving 7-8 million for this year.

Like I mentioned earlier, while this contract opens up cap space now, it would result in a rough cap hit for the 2022 season most likely. This may seem problematic, but it likely won’t be at the time. The Steelers are likely to have at least one down season once Ben retires, as they do not appear to have a replacement on the roster currently (both Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs profile as backups). If that happens, they may try to dump salary anyways in order to gain draft capital, so they can grab their next franchise QB. This will make the one year of high cap hit easy to stomach.

Matt Freed – Post-Gazette

Overall, there are a couple routes the Steelers and Big Ben could travel to get an extension done. It ultimately boils down to how much the Steelers feel they need to save this season, and how much they are willing to stomach in dead money down the road. It’ll likely be the latter in that scenario, as they realize their best chance to win another Super Bowl is by going all in while they have number seven under center.

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