Updated: Jan 22
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
After 17 years in the NFL, Philip Rivers announced this morning that he's retiring. Rivers played 16 years with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and spent his last year with the Indianapolis Colts this past season.
Ben Roethlisberger is now the only quarterback left standing from the legendary 2004 quarterback draft class that included Rivers and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who retired following the 2019 season. While Rivers never won a Super Bowl like Roethlisberger and Manning, each who have won two, it wouldn't be surprising to see all three quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday.
Rivers finished his career fifth all-time in passing yards (63,440) and touchdown passes (421). Roethlisberger, who turns 39 in March, is expected to play out his contract and return for the 2021 season. Roethlisberger ranks seventh all-time in passing yards (60,348) and eighth in touchdown passes (396). Roethlisberger needs 3,093 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes to surpass Rivers on the all-time list.
Tom Brady, who doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon will turn 44 in August, and with all reports indicating that Drew Brees will retire, Roethlisberger will be the second oldest quarterback in the league in 2021.
Roethlisberger has one more year left on his current contract that carries a hefty $41.25 million cap hit. According to Overthecap.com, the Steelers are almost 22 million over the projected salary cap of $176 million because of lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Steelers could also extend Roethlisberger's contract to lower his cap hit this year but that would be just kicking the can down the road, which is something they've done in previous seasons, and is the reason why they're dealing with a $41.25 million cap hit right now.
Roethlisberger is due a $15 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2021 new league year, which begins on March 17. The Steelers will save $19 million if they cut Roethlisberger or if he decides to retire before his roster bonus is due. So a decision will have to be made in the next two months. The Steelers have 19 players that are set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, so the $19 million saved could help to re-sign a player like Bud Dupree or JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers will have $22.25 million in dead money if Roethlisberger is cut or retires.
With Rivers retiring today and Brees expected to make an official announcement of retirement soon, Father Time has come up on generational quarterbacks, and Roethlisberger's time is coming sooner rather than later. If he does return for the 2021 season, it looks like it will be his last ride.
Roethlisberger has earned $252,724,382 in his career, per Overthecap.com, and that doesn't include endorsements. Money is certainly not an issue. He has pretty much all the records for a Steelers' quarterback in franchise history and has won two Super Bowls. It would seem that Roethlisberger has nothing else to prove, but maybe he wants to make one last effort to help Maurkice Pouncey get a ring, who might retire. The two have always said they would hang it up at the same time when one decides to call it a career.
Roethlisberger on his official Twitter account, which isn't run directly by him, released a statement congratulating Rivers on his incredible career.
“Philip, what a career! An amazing competitor, winner & family man. It’s been fun to compete against u & watch u do your thing for so many years,” said Roethlisberger. “I know countless kids have been inspired by u & will benefit from your coaching & football knowledge in the future. God bless! – Ben.”