Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis joined USA Today on Monday, and shared his opinion of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s future.
When asked by host Mackenzie Salmon if the 38-year-old still has it, Bettis said it will be dependent on Roethlisberger rediscovering his accuracy, which he believes dropped last season due to a slip in fundamentals.
“I saw Ben this year, and it wasn’t an issue of could he still throw the football down the field,” Bettis said. “It was he had some accuracy issues, things of that nature. When that happens, you got to go back to your fundamentals. Obviously the big concern was arm strength, can he throw it? And I think the focus was there, as opposed to ‘You know what, let’s get back to basics. You were out a full year, let’s get your fundamentals corrected.’”
Bettis added that if Roethlisberger can address those mechanical issues, the Steelers can still have success with him under center next year.
“I think he can still be the answer short-term, obviously, but if you can work with him, just get the accuracy back. It was never an issue of if he could get it to the guys. Just get the accuracy back, get him feeling good about himself and go out there and play well,” Bettis said.
Bettis also sees it as reasonable for Pittsburgh to ask Roethlisberger to assist in the maturation and tutelage of the young quarterbacks behind him, whether it is Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins.
Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis on why Ben Roethlisberger can still "be the answer" for the Steelers. pic.twitter.com/DqmbF5esEf— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) February 1, 2021
Roethlisberger has not officially announced his intentions to return for the 2021 season yet, but did express his willingness to significantly restructure his expensive contract for a potential comeback.
The two-time Super Bowl champion was inconsistent during his 17th season. Roethlisberger had a fine season statistically, passing for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play drop drastically over the latter half of the year.
As on now, Roethlisberger will count over $41 million towards the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap obligations, with the club projected to be well over the cap this offseason. He could forgo up to $19 million of his salary for this upcoming season to provide the team some much needed breathing room.