Ben Roethlisberger's long-term future is unknown, but it's looking like he'll be in Pittsburgh for at least one more season following his meeting Tuesday with Art Rooney II and the quarterback's agent making it known a contract adjustment would be forthcoming.
With the Steelers in a difficult salary cap position and Roethlisberger accounting for a fifth of the team's cap space, the agent for two-time Super Bowl champion told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala the quarterback's camp is prepared to adjust his contract to make it possible for him to return for 2021 and help Pittsburgh remain competitive.
"They want Ben back and will contact me soon to address his cap situation," agent Ryan Tollner told Kinkhabwala on Tuesday. "As we've shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible. A year ago, Ben wasn't sure if he could throw again, but he battled back to get 12 wins and the eighth division title of his career. They lost steam down the stretch and that doesn't sit well for him, so the fire burns strong and there is plenty of gas in the tank."
Roethlisberger met with Rooney II, the Steelers owner and team president, on Tuesday and Rooney told Roethlisberger that he wants him back for another season, per Kinkhabwala.
"That means this is expected to happen," Rapoport said on NFL Total Access. "There is, of course, the matter of the cap situation.
"That is something that is expected to be worked out. ... This is expected to happen, so Roethlisberger is going to be back with the Steelers for 2021, just gotta make the numbers work, which should happen shortly."
Roethlisberger came out of the gates firing in 2020 and looking as good as ever, completing 67.5% of his passes for 2,800 yards and a 25-6 TD-INT ratio in the Steelers' first 11 games. Pittsburgh went undefeated in that stretch, looking like a Super Bowl favorite with an offense powered by Roethlisberger, who was turning in a vintage performance with a new cast of pass-catchers.
Then, the wheels fell off. The Steelers lost four of their final five regular season games and bowed out of the playoffs in a stunning, 48-37 wild-card loss to the Cleveland Browns. Worst of all, Roethlisberger looked lost, watching his passer rating fall dramatically from 99 to 71.8 in the three straight losses before rescuing himself and the Steelers' division title hopes in a dramatic 28-24 win over Indianapolis in Week 16. Pittsburgh's problems persisted into the postseason, though, with Roethlisberger throwing four interceptions in the loss to the Browns and spending the final moments of the game sitting on the lonely Heinz Field bench with tears in his eyes.
That ending wasn't the one anyone envisioned for Roethlisberger's time in Pittsburgh, which has included the aforementioned two Super Bowl triumphs and a third appearance in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers have been perennial contenders since Roethlisberger's arrival in 2004, and they'll hope that remains true in 2021.
With a cap hit north of $41 million, the onus will fall on Pittsburgh's cap wizards to creatively restructure the veteran's deal in order to get under the salary cap for 2021, which currently projects to be at least $180 million. Tuesday's news at least clears the air of concern about both parties' desires to get the job done.