Ben Roethlisberger Meets With Art Rooney II Amid 2021 Season Decision


Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and team president Art Rooney II met with each other on Tuesday (February 23) amid the veteran quarterback's looming 2021 season decision.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the meeting "went well," amid reports of Roethlisberger still weighing whether to return for his 18th NFL season.

Last month, Roethlisberger, 38, told the Athletic that he's "pretty sure" he wants to play another season and plans to discuss his current contract with the Steelers, which includes a $41.2 million cap hit.

"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," Roethlisberger said.

The two-time Super Bowl champion said he thinks he "can do it and give us a real chance at winning" when asked about a possible return.

During a Zoom call last month, Steelers president and CEO Art Rooney II said the franchise is leaving the door open for Roethlisberger to return and make adjustments to his current contract.

"I think we've been up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract," Rooney said via ESPN. "I think he understands we have some work to do there. We'll have more conversations internally, and we'll have more conversations with Ben, and we'll have to know what the cap number is to finalize some of those decisions."

Roethlisberger also told the Athletic last month that he doesn't "care bout my pay at all this year" when asked about possible re-negotiations. The 38-year-old quarterback threw for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 399 of 608 passing, while leading Pittsburgh to an AFC North Division Championship in 2020, before being eliminated by the rival Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Roethlisberger's primary receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster, also said the veteran quarterback returning would be a key factor in his own upcoming free agency decision.

"I do want to play for a team that competes for the Super Bowl every year," Smith-Schuster told the Yinzhers Podcast., which also featured his mother, Sammy Toa Schuster, as a guest. "That's in the playoffs. Obviously, the Steelers are that. I do want to play for a great quarterback, not knowing what Ben's going to do. I do want to be paid a reasonable price for what I'm worth. 

"In all consideration, I would love to stay with the Steelers. I would love to stay with them, but as of right now, we're just kind of up in the air, waiting."

Smith-Schuster also said it "means a lot" that franchise quarterback Roethlisberger would be willing to re-negotiate his current contract to free up cap space, providing the Steelers with more money to sign other players, during an interview with FOX Sports Radio last month.

The 24-year-old said he'd "love to play with Ben for his time here" amid the quarterback's ongoing retirement decision.

The Steelers will have 19 players set to enter free agency on March 17.

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