(Screenshot of "Speak For Yourself" segment on YouTube)
The Steelers made it official on Thursday that Ben Roethlisberger will back for an 18th season when they signed him to a new contract. Roethlisberger was true to his word and took a $5 million pay cut. He'll make $14 million and save the team more than $15 million in salary-cap space in 2021. The new deal includes a $12.925 million signing bonus, a $1.075 million base salary and four voidable years to push a $10.36 million cap hit into 2022.
While the move is a win-win for both sides, it seems like Steelers fans are 50-50 on the decision, as some would rather see the Steelers just move on and start looking for Roethlisberger's heir apparent. Roethlisberger without a doubt gives the Steelers the best chance to win this season, however, as their only other options at quarterback is either Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins.
Most of the national media is not a fan of the decision, which isn't surprising, as they've never really been fond of Roethlisberger. Although there is some merit with the Steelers being too loyal to Roethlisberger, as Joy Taylor suggested on "Speak For Yourself" on Thursday. Taylor, who is a Pittsburgh native, said the Steelers have lost their way by settling on Big Ben next season.
"Pittsburgh is a very loyal place. The Steelers are a loyal organization, they're a very steady organization, they're a very committed organization, however, they've lost their way," Taylor said. "The Steelers used to be an organization that held Lombardi trophies as the standard for a successful season, anything less than that was a disappointment."
Taylor didn't like what she heard from Art Rooney II last week, as she believes the Steelers are settling for less than what the standard should be.
"I didn't like what I heard from them last week," Taylor said. "Talking about, 'We had the longest winning streak in franchise history, you know, we won the division.' Won the division? When did that become the standard for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Not the Pittsburgh Steelers that I know."
The Steelers got off to a franchise-best 11-0 start in 2020, but they faded down the stretch, losing five of their last six games, including the embarrassing loss to the Browns in the first round of the playoffs. Roethlisberger didn't play well either late in the season after having a stellar start to the year when some considered him a league MVP candidate.
In the first nine games, Roethlisberger had a 22-4 touchdown-interception ratio and had a quarterback rating over 100 seven times. In his last seven games of the season (including the playoff loss), Roethlisberger had a 15-10 touchdown-interception ratio and had a quarterback rating over 100 just once.
"We are a loyal city and they are a loyal organization, so they're going to try to make it work with Ben one more year," Taylor said. "I think it's nice of Ben that he restructured and gave them some money and some flexibility, but no, it's time to move on from Ben Roethlisberger. Apparently, I was the only one that watched the end of that Pittsburgh Steelers season, because while that winning steak was great and it was fun and I certainly enjoyed it. The end of the season was an utter collapse, and Ben did not look great and did not put up great numbers."
The last time the Steelers won a playoff game was the 2016 Divisional Round Game when they beat the Chiefs, 18-16. If the Steelers fail to win a playoff game in 2021, it will be five straight seasons without a playoff win, which hasn't happened for the Steelers since before 1972.
"Ben is at the end of the road," Taylor said. "When was the last time they won a playoff game? 2016, they've lost three straight playoff games. You want to talk about Russell Wilison and Deshaun Watson and the value they have to these organizations. What is Ben bringing to the organization? He's not a workout guy. He's not a huge culture guy, his teammates like him, the city likes him, but he's blocked them from moving forward at the quarterback position and bringing in his heir apparent for whenever he decides to retire, which he's been talking about for three or four years now."
The Steelers have the toughest schedule in the league in 2021 based on their opponents' combined record of 143-111-2 (.563) in 2020. It includes nine games against 2020 playoff teams, counting the Browns and Ravens twice. They also have tough road games at Kansas City, Buffalo and Green Bay.
The AFC North was one of the toughest divisions in the league last year and it shouldn't be any different in 2021. The Browns and Ravens both have young quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, and the Bengals are a young improving team led by Joe Burrow.
"Joe Burrow's going to be back next year, we know what Lamar Jackson is capable of, Baker Mayfield is solid. What are you guys going to do going into the future after this year?" Joy said about the Steelers' quarterback situation. "Because if you bring Ben back that's great, cool, maybe he wins another division, I don't think he'll win another playoff game because I think that time has passed and the AFC is getting better as we speak.
"But, what are you going to do next year? Are you willing to make a trade to bring someone in like Sam Darnold? Are you willing to make some moves to ensure that you have the next guy that's going to come in after Ben Roethlisberger eventually does retire? Probably not, I don't see them making those kind of aggressive moves. So no, I don't think it was a good idea, they're just keeping a little Band-Aid there. They're being soft, they want to ease him into retirement, or whatever, but I don't think this is a good move for the Steelers."