Ben Roethlisberger made his return to a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform official for next season. After Steelers owner Art Rooney II issued a statement saying Roethlisberger would be back for an 18th season, the team sealed the deal on Thursday with a new contract for Big Ben. The surprising part is how Roethlisberger's contract has been restructured to avoid his cap hit of $41 million. According to ESPN, Roethlisberger accepted a reduced pay, taking $14 million over $19 million while spreading his cash payments across 2022. This move lowers the team's salary cap hit by more than $15 million.
"We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021," Steelers General Manager and Vice President Kevin Colbert said in a statement. "We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same – to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal."
We have signed QB Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract for 2021.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 4, 2021
The franchise QB also spoke in a statement released by the team Thursday, affirming his love for the team and his commitment to football. "It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization," Roethlisberger said. "I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go."
Steelers owner Art Rooney hinted that Big Ben would be returning in a statement back in February. While Rooney didn't hint at any contract discussion, he did indicate that the star QB would be returning.
"Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday morning and we had a productive meeting," Rooney said in a statement. "We were able to discuss a lot of things that related to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship. We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben's contract situation."
This news comes one week after Steelers general manager Kevin Cobert being noncommittal on Roethlisberger's future. "As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Colbert said. "He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play. We told him we have to look at this current situation." Had the Steelers decided to cut Roethlisberger, he would count $22 million against the team's salary cap.
Roethlisberger is coming off a strong 2020 season, throwing for 3,893 yards and 33 seasons while leading the Steelers to an 11-5 record. However, the 2020 season had a bitter ending as the Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
"Ben Roethlisberger did a lot of really good things last year," Colbert said. "We anticipate that he could still do really good things going forward. Hopefully, we can figure out how to do what's best for the organization and for Ben. Hopefully, he'll be able to see that."
Drafted by the Steelers No. 11 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger, 38, has put together a memorable career. He has played in three Super Bowls while winning two of them. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2004 and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl six times. Roethlisberger holds the NFL record for most 500-yard passing games (4) and most TD passes in a two-game span (12).