st-benLet me ask a very simple question. Should Ben Roethlisberger be given a contract extension enabling him to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler sooner rather than later?
Unless you have been living in a cave somewhere since the 2004 NFL Draft there is only one logical answer. A resounding YES!
As of this moment he is 32 years old and is under contract for another two seasons with the Steelers. The team has three options at this point. They could offer an extension before the season starts, wait until after this season and offer one before the final year of his deal or ride out the remainder of the current contract to get something done. Yes, not resigning him after his current deal is technically an option as well but in all reality that sounds more foolish than the city of Cleveland planning a Super Bowl parade.
Aside from the team’s three options, Roethlisberger himself has one as well. He can hold out. I know most people around Pittsburgh and Steeler Nation don’t want to even think about that. I can hear the yinzers now, sitting at Primanti Brothers and their local pub drinking an “Iron” when they would catch wind of a Big Ben holdout.
“That bum is holding out for more money? Cut him!”
“Who does he think he is, Terry Bradshaw? He’s being selfish and we don’t want that kind of guy in Black and Gold!!”
“What gives him the right to think he’s better than the team? Art Rooney Sr. never would stand for this!!!”
I’ll tell you what gives him the right. First off, no player is guaranteed any amount of time on the field, especially a quarterback. With the Steelers offensive line play, basically since Roethlisberger was drafted, every play could be his last. Remember the feeling of pure fear and terror that swept through Steeler Nation on December 29, 2011 when he left the field against the Browns on a stretcher? Over the years he has taken a lot of punishment. Between lackluster offensive line play and Ben trying to extend plays, he has taken more of a beating than any other quarterback in the league.
Secondly, Ben isn’t just the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is the face of the franchise. He is a franchise quarterback in what has turned into a passing league. As far as I am aware those types of guys don’t grow on trees. How many “franchise quarterbacks” have been drafted over the years in the NFL whose best day as a pro was when the Commissioner announced their name on draft day? To name a few Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, Kyle Boller, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, and more recently Christian Ponder, Mark Sanchez, and Brandon Weeden were all drafted as “franchise quarterbacks” by their respective teams in the first round. All of them have one thing in common on the NFL stage, failure. Predicting a great quarterback in the NFL is never a guarantee. Just ask the 31 teams that passed on Tom Brady for more than five straight rounds in the 2000 draft. Does the name Giovanni Carmazzi ring any bells? I didn’t think so. He was one of the six quarterbacks selected ahead of Brady that year, taken in the third round by San Francisco.
Next, since Roethlisberger has played his entire career in Black and Gold he has never been put into a situation where his numbers were staggering. They do however speak volumes about the player he is. He has only had one season where he finished below .500 as a starter, in 2006 at 7-8. He has passed for 4,000 yards three times in his career and 3,000 yards five times. He has thrown 97 more touchdowns than interceptions in his ten seasons (219-122). Only twice has he thrown for a completion percentage below 60%, finishing at 59.7 and 59.9 in 2006 and 2008 respectively. His record as a starter in the regular season is 95 wins and 47 losses. His career winning percentage ranks sixth all time ahead of names like Johnny Unitas, Steve Young, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Brett Favre. His playoff winning percentage of .714 is third among active players only behind Russell Wilson and Eli Manning. Oh, and I forgot to mention those two insignificant little Super Bowl rings he has the privilege of wearing.
Finally, he is and has been the best player on the best franchise in football for most of his 10 seasons. The past two seasons the Steelers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Just imagine their record without Roethlisberger. I’m willing to put my neck on the line and say they would have been picking a lot higher on draft day if it were not for Ben.
Maybe he has five, six or seven good seasons left in him. Can you imagine number 7 playing in any other color but Black and Gold? I can’t.
The Rooney’s have gone on the record and said they want him to finish his career in Pittsburgh. If I were Ben Roethlisberger, I would call their bluff. If he were to hold out he would have all of the leverage. It worked for Hines Ward before the 2004 season. He missed most of training camp and was given a new deal before the season started. All he did that year was catch 80 passes for 1004 yards. Oh, and he ended it with a Lombardi Trophy to go with his trip to Disney World as Super Bowl XL MVP.
Right now he is eleventh in annual salary for quarterbacks behind the likes of Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. Doesn’t seem right, does it? If Roethlisberger holds out, that would put the franchise in a bind. It would show that he means business. It would force their hand in getting a new deal done. What’s the worst that could happen? He doesn’t risk injury in a meaningless preseason? The reward greatly outweighs the risk.
The Steelers need to do the right thing, not only for the franchise but for their franchise quarterback. They need to pay their best player and keep him where he belongs. They owe it their fans. They owe it to Ben. If not, enjoy the next two seasons watching the best quarterback in Steeler history. Don’t hold it against him if he holds out but if a contract doesn’t get done before his deal is up, hold it against the Steelers. If they don’t resign him the outlook beyond the 2015 season is bleak at best. Who knows what the future holds though. Maybe the Rooney’s still have Charlie Batch’s number.

Posted in Pittsburgh Steelers