Steelers won't negotiate Roethlisberger extension until after season
Ike Taylor reported to Steelers training camp wearing Google Glass eyewear he joked can see into the future. Perhaps he has seen when Ben Roethlisberger will get a new contract.
It's all but certain it won't be 2014.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said Friday the team will wait until the offseason to attempt to negotiate a new contract with Roethlisberger, whose current $100,105,882 contract still has two years to run.
The Steelers' rationale appears to be they hope to lock up some players whose deals end after this season and who could leave as free agents in March — a group that includes Cortez Allen, Marcus Gilbert, Shaun Suisham, Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats.
Also, delaying talks gives both sides more time to figure out a solution to the problem that perplexes all teams with a franchise quarterback: How to fairly compensate him without wrecking the salary cap.
Deals such as Jay Cutler's $126 million blockbuster with the Chicago Bears have further driven up the price of quarterbacks. However, teams benefited by a $10 million salary cap bump to $130 million this season, and a comparable hike is expected in 2015.
Roethlisberger didn't talk to reporters Friday, but he told the Tribune-Review during the offseason that he wasn't worried about a new deal.
“Like all of us, Ben wants to be in a position to compete for championships. I think Ben understands our intentions and our commitment to getting his contract done next offseason,” Rooney said in a statement.
Rooney wouldn't comment further. Roethlisberger's agent, Ryan Tollner, likewise said, “I don't intend to be on the record. That's the approach we're going to take with Ben's deal altogether. We think that's the right approach.”
Neither side appears overly worried that negotiations might break down next year or that Roethlisberger, one of only three QBs in history to win multiple Super Bowls with different coaches, might become a free agent in March 2016.
The possible hangup, of course, is that quarterback contracts will continue to escalate and the Steelers will have to pay more than they might now.
Roethlisberger has said repeatedly he wants to play his entire career in Pittsburgh. He was furious with an NFL Network report last season that he might ask to be traded. Rooney has estimated Roethlisberger, 32, has five to six more good seasons remaining.
Roethlisberger might be the first NFL player to sign a $100 million contract who actually collects most of it. Players such as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Carson Palmer signed megadeals that ended long before schedule. Most huge deals are backloaded and renegotiated before they expire.
But Roethlisberger continues to play under his 2008 deal that has been restructured for cap purposes multiple times. By the end of this season, he will have collected about $90 million of the contract.
Roethlisberger will make $12.1 million this season, with a salary-cap hit of $18,895,000. He is the NFL's sixth highest-paid quarterback in base salary. Roethlisberger is set to make $11.6 million in 2015, with a cap hit of $18,395,000.
Roethlisberger told teammates he is in the best shape of his career and is motivated to lead a team he believes is ready to have a strong season following successive 8-8 records.
“He's a leader, an all-time great,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “I think he's the best quarterback in the NFL.”
Roethlisberger also told them the lack of a new contract won't become a distraction.
No matter what Taylor sees in those glasses.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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