Steelers' Kevin Colbert: 'Huge lift' that Ben Roethlisberger wants to play beyond 2019
INDIANAPOLIS — A new contract may be in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's future, but general manager Kevin Colbert said the Steelers don't need to restructure his current deal or extend it for salary-cap purposes before the new league year begins March 14.
Roethlisberger has two years remaining on his contract and will count $23.2 million against the salary cap in each of the 2018-19 seasons. The Steelers have about $6 million in cap space as they try to sign running back Le'Veon Bell to a long-term contract.
Colbert said it was a “huge lift emotionally” when Roethlisberger announced after the AFC divisional playoff loss to Jacksonville in January that he would return for 2018 and beyond.
Roethlisberger, who turns 36 on Friday, has said he would like to play beyond his contract, a change of heart from the 2017 offseason when he contemplated retirement.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team is in favor of extending Roethlisberger's contract but did not provide a timeframe for any negotiations. The Steelers typically extend their quarterback's contract with two years remaining, but Roethlisberger's previous deal came when he had one year left.
“Whatever his years are, whatever years he has left, we want them to be the best, and we hope it's more than year to year and we can go beyond the contract he has,” Colbert said Wednesday.
Although Roethlisberger plans to play multiple seasons, Colbert said the Steelers won't change their approach to the draft. Last year, with Roethlisberger's future uncertain, the Steelers selected Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round. The Steelers also signed backup Landry Jones to a two-year deal that expires after the 2018 season.
“We go through the evaluation process the same ever year,” Colbert said. “We will evaluate players we might not draft because we have to stack the draft board accordingly.”