Now that we are roughly two weeks removed from the Super Bowl, the NFL silly season is officially in full swing.
There’s also no sign of things slowing down any time soon either, as rumors and speculation run rampant throughout sports media and the Internet.
And that includes the possibility that this NFL franchise is looking to cut ties with a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
This NFL offseason has already been one for the ages, thanks in large part to the drama in Houston where Deshaun Watson has demanded a trade and three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt is heading off to free agency.
There’s also been major speculation over whether this is the offseason we see a mass changing of the guard at quarterback across the league, as a number of all-time greats’ careers are coming to a close.
We’ve already seen one of those quarterbacks, Philip Rivers, announce his retirement, and Tom Brady seems set to return once again, but there are still several others who have yet to announce firm plans for their futures.
One of those quarterbacks is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
Since Roethlisberger faltered late last season as the Steelers went from the last undefeated team in the NFL to a first round playoff exit, his future in Pittsburgh has been unclear.
Would Roethlisberger retire, or would the Steelers simply choose to move in a different direction without the quarterback who helped them win two Super Bowls?
And recently, the latter option picked up steam thanks to comments made by Pittsburgh’s general manager that appeared to suggest that the Steelers were ready to cut ties with Roethlisberger.
“As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play. We told him we have to look at this current situation.”
That current situation is the fact that the Steelers are currently $30 million over the NFL’s 2021 salary cap, and Roethlisberger alone accounts for more than $40 million of Pittsburgh’s total cap.
This isn’t the first time someone from the Steelers organization has expressed doubts about the team’s ability to bring Big Ben back in 2021 either.
A few weeks ago, Steelers team President Art Rooney told reporters that Roethlisberger’s return to the team was very much in question due to the team’s financial situation and the quarterback’s current contract.
“I don’t want to go too far down that road because we have a lot of discussions internally and with Ben,” Rooney said. “Salary cap and Ben’s contract is a big factor in where we go. That’s as much as I can say.”
The fact that the Steelers seem to be very noncommittal every time they speak about Ben Roethlisberger, while the quarterback appears to be telling the team he’s all in for 2021, leaves one to wonder whether or not the team even wants him back.
Clearly, the Steelers have been aware that they’d be faced with this salary cap situation for some time, but have yet to do anything about it.
They could have easily restructured Big Ben’s contract and given him an extension that would have allowed the team to easily get rid of him if they chose to do so, but again, they haven’t done anything and the clock is ticking.
Whether or not he’s in Pittsburgh in 2021, is anyone’s guess at this point.
But don’t be surprised if the Steelers ultimately decide that it’s time for the Ben Roethlisberger-era to end sooner rather than later.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.