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Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert surprisingly was non-committal when asked by the Pittsburgh media on Wednesday if the soon-to-be 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger will return for an 18th season with the team.
"As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Colbert said via Bob Labriola of Steelers.com. "He met with Art Rooney II, he met with Coach Tomlin, he met with me shortly after the season ended. He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play, and we told him quite frankly we have to look at this current situation. Art addressed that with Ben's current cap number, some adjustments will have to be made. And we aren't negotiating as we sit here (today) to answer this question. Ben Roethlisberger is on the team. Ben Roethlisberger did a lot of really good things last year, and we anticipate he could still do some good things moving forward."
Former Steelers free safety and teammate of Roethlisberger, Ryan Clark, was asked about Colbert's comments on Roethlisberger on "Get Up" today.
"Man, Ben please just retire and don't make me do this," Clark said of what he thought Colbert was thinking. "Listen, Kev is a man's man. Kevin Colbert is a football dude. When he was in Detroit, he was a football dude. Ever since he's been in Pittsburgh, he's a football dude. He's not one of these guys that gets on TV and tries to give you quotes or wants to have things that become headline material. That's not Kevin Colbert. He's telling you the truth. That he does see some things that Ben can do well, but one this has to work out for us as far as an organization as money is concerned, but also we have to figure out if this is the right thing for our current team moving forward, and I don't necessarily believe it is."
Roethlisberger's situation is kind of similar to what happened to Troy Polamalu in February of 2015. However, the Steelers' brass Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were more brutally honest with Polamalu from the start as they told him if he didn't retire they would have to cut him. In April of 2015, Polamalu called it a career as he didn't want to play for another team other than the Steelers. It's unknown as of now if Roethlisberger has been told the same thing by Rooney, Tomlin and Colbert, or if that were to be the case down the road.
"Listen, I was on the phone with Troy Polamalu when he was going through these things and when he was released and then when he subsequently retired,"Clark said. "The resentment that he felt because of what he had given to the team and what he had sacrificed."
Clark says that he knows Roethlisberger feels the same way as Polamalu in regards to all that he's done and sacrificed for the team in his career. That's why Colbert is in a tough situation, especially with Roethlisberger telling Ed Bouchette of The Athletic that he doesn't care how much he makes this year and is willing to do whatever he can to help the team.
"When Ben comes out publicly and says you know what, 'I'll play for this team for nothing. I don't care about the money.' It now puts Kevin Colbert in this publicly difficult situation of a quarterback who won you two Super Bowls, who been your quarterback for over a decade and a half saying you know what, 'I'll work for free,'" Clark said. "But Kevin Colbert (has) to look at it and say you know what, 'Even if it's for free, it might not be for me.' It might not be for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It might be time to move on."
Clark appreciates everything that Roethlisberger has done for the Steelers and his own career in helping him get a Super Bowl ring. However, Clark thinks it's in the Steelers best interest to part ways with Roethlisberger.
"And I think as we sit today, and it's hard to say because listen, I love Ben. The reason I have a Super Bowl ring is because Big Ben Roethlisberger was big time in a huge moment. It's time to move on. It's time to start over. I don't believe they win a Super Bowl with him at quarterback," Clark said. "And when you got six rings and when you're whole city and you're whole organization is about winning championships, if you have a quarterback that can't take you there, it's time to move on and start trying to find a way to get there, and I think it's that time for the Pittsburgh Steelers."