(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Longtime NFL analyst and writer John Clayton was on 93.7 The Fan today and surprisingly said that he thinks Ben Roethlisberger at the age of 39 will play for two more years, 2021 and 2022.
Most analysts and fans are under the assumption that 2021 will be the final ride for Roethlisberger. I feel the same way, I just can't see Roethlisberger coming back for another season in 2022, unless he stays healthy and gets his deep ball back, as it was subpar in 2020. There's also a 17-game schedule now and Roethlisberger is only getting older.
I also feel that he wants to move on with his life's work after the 2021 season. I just think it's time. Longtime teammate and friend Maurkice Pouncey retired this offseason and I think Roethlisberger came back for this season because he wanted to honor his contract and not have his career end on a sour note by losing to the Browns in a playoff game at home.
Stadiums are expected to be fully packed in 2021 also after a limited amount of fans or no fans at all were allowed at games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So maybe Roethlisberger wants to play in front of Steelers Nation one more time and get a proper send-off as well.
The new deal Roethlisberger signed in March 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. The deal also voids five days after Super Bowl LVI, which indicates that 2021 will be the last year for Roethlisberger.
The Steelers got off to a franchise-best 11-0 start in 2020, but they collapsed down the stretch, losing five of their last six games of the season, including the 48-37 loss to the Browns in the wild-card game. 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.
As noted, Roethlisberger's deep ball was horrendous in 2020 and he averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt, the lowest of his career when playing more than two games (2019 season).