The National Football League has an interesting way of letting you know you may have stayed at the party too long. Often, players are shocked that their speed, ability to get off of a block or throw with touch leaves them long before they know it. For a quarterback, especially one like Ben Roethlisberger, Sunday night in Pittsburgh may have been a courtesy note that time is not on his side.
The Steelers lost a home playoff game to division rival Cleveland 48-37. It wasn’t that close no matter how much you may want to massage Roethlisberger’s numbers. Big Ben threw for a ton of yards, 501 to be exact. He also racked up 46 completions on 68 attempts. He even managed four touchdowns to go with the four interceptions he lobbed to Cleveland defenders.
It’s complicated because when legend meets the end of the road, it’s complicated. For Roethlisberger, he understands the offseason will be one filled with tough decisions and even harder truths:
“A lot of praying. And then, you know, a lot of talking with my family, discussions, decisions. And, you know, I still have a year left on my contract. I hope the Steelers want me back, if that’s the way we go. There’ll be a lot of discussions, but now’s not the time for that.”Ben Roethlisberger
As for the financial considerations, Roethlisberger has one year left on his contract. His cap obligation of $41.25 million becomes a reality on March 17. If the Steelers decide they want to keep Big Ben in Pittsburgh, they will need to sign him to an extension and deal with cap issues at a later time.
Roethlisberger moves into that rare space that has seen other big names occupy it. The one where former franchise-type quarterbacks find a new home. It worked well for Peyton Manning, but not so much for someone like Joe Flacco. Phillip Rivers found some success in Indianapolis, but he wasn’t the quarterback we all knew from his days in San Diego/Los Angeles.
It’s not inconceivable that fans see Big Ben playing football next fall. What’s uncertain is if he’s playing in Pittsburgh. His legacy is solid. He will be in Canton, as his two Super Bowl rings will see to that. However, the uncertainty of “what’s next” will be must-see TV as the offseason process unrolls itself in the Steel City.