Roethlisberger, Steelers close on contract extension

| Monday, March 3, 2008

A deal on a contract extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appears to be imminent, as his agents are in Pittsburgh and meeting with the Steelers.

"All I can say at this point is it's very close," said Ryan Tollner, who along with his brother, Bruce, represents Roethlisberger. "We're hopefully here to finish it."

Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, has said he wants to retire as a Steeler.

He has two years left on the deal he signed after the Steelers took Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

The Steelers typically don't renegotiate contracts until players are going into the final year of their existing deal. They do, however, make an exception for quarterbacks.

Roethlisberger turned 26 on Sunday, and after the season he had it's easy why signing him to a long-term extension is the Steelers' top offseason priority.

Roethlisberger threw 32 touchdown passes in 2007, setting a new Steelers single-season record in that category, and his passer rating of 104.1 was second only to New England's Tom Brady among NFL quarterbacks.

When asked recently if he was surprised by the season Roethlisberger had, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, "No, I wasn't. I've been around elite guys at other positions. First time I've been around a quarterback like that."

Roethlisberger threw for 3,154 yards in 2007 and completed just over 65 percent of his passes while leading the Steelers to a 10-6 record and an AFC North title.

The offensive line he played behind last season took a hit when perennial Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca signed with the Jets over the weekend.

The Steelers have been quiet since the free-agent signing period started last Friday, but they have scheduled a visit with Patriots safety Eugene Wilson.

Wilson is set to meet with the Steelers on Tuesday, said his agent, James Sims.

An unrestricted free agent, Wilson is visiting the Buccaneers, and the Titans are also interested in the five-year veteran.

Wilson, who can also play cornerback, appeared in 11 regular-season games for New England last season and made 31 tackles. He returned the only interception he had for a touchdown.

Wilson, a second-round pick by the Patriots in 2003, has 10 career interceptions.

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