Updated: Jan 29, 2021
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Earlier today Steelers president Art Rooney II spoke with the Pittsburgh media on several topics concerning the team and its future. One of the topics brought up was Ben Roethlisberger's $41.25 million cap hit, which is the largest cap hit in the league in 2021.
Rooney told reporters that Roethlisberger wants to come back and has told the team that, but Rooney said they can't do it at his current salary and Roethlisberger knows that.
Ed Bouchette of The Athletic tweeted that Roethlisberger told him that he doesn't care about how much he gets paid this year at all and he's willing to restructure his contract to lower his $41.25 million cap hit for 2021 that includes $19 million in bonus and salary that can be restructured.
Roethlisberger also told Roethlisberger that he's pretty sure he wants to go one more year because he thinks he can do it and give the Steelers a real chance of winning.
It's unclear just how much Roethlisberger is willing to play for in 2021. Would he take a massive pay cut from the $19 million he's owed this year? Who knows, but he made it apparent to Bouchette that he's willing to do whatever it takes to lower his cap hit and help the team out. According to Overthecap.com, Roethlisberger has made a career earning of $252,724,382 and that doesn't include endorsements, so it's not like he couldn't afford to take a pay cut. He would just be making well below the average of what the market dictates for franchise quarterbacks.
Regardless, the Steelers are set to have 19 unrestricted free agents in March and they are projected to be roughly $30 million over the cap due to the league losing revenue in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cap floor for 2021 is $175 million. Roethlisberger's willingness to lower his cap hit will free up some money and potentially bring back some key players or sign some outside free agents. According to Bouchette, Roethlisberger approached the Steelers first about restructuring his contract.
With a contract extension to lower Roethlisberger's cap hit, the Steelers will have to be cautious in adding those future years so it doesn't hurt them down the road with an excessive amount of dead money when it's possible that Roethlisberger won't even be on the team in 2022 or 2023.