Ben Roethlisberger has indicated a desire to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the team will not permit him to return under the terms of his current contract, team president Art Rooney II said while speaking with beat reporters, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now on Thursday.
Roethlisberger, 38, has made no public statements about his future since saying after the end of the 2020 season that he would take some time to consider whether he wanted to continue playing in 2021.
But Thursday, Rooney acknowledged that the team and its longtime quarterback had been in touch about what the future may hold.
“Ben wants to come back,” Rooney said. “So we’ve left that door open. We’ve been — I think — up front with Ben and let him know that we couldn’t have him back under the current contract. So I think he understands we have some work to do there. We’ll have more conversations internally, we’ll have more conversations with Ben, and obviously, we’ll have to know what the cap number is at some point to really finalize with those decisions.”
Roethlisberger is scheduled to count for $41.25 million toward the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap, of which they are currently slated to be around $30 million over, based on an estimated $180 million salary cap.
Only $22.25 million of that money is guaranteed, meaning that the Steelers would save $19 million if Roethlisberger is retired or released. The sides could also negotiate a decreased salary from that figure or an extension to push some of the money to the 2022 season.
“We’d like to see Ben back for another year if that can work,” Rooney said. “But as we said, there’s a lot of work to be done to see if that can happen. There may need to be decisions that are made on both sides for that to happen.”