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Steelers All 91: DB Jermaine Ponder

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All 91 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 91 members of the Steelers 2019 training camp roster.

33 • Jermaine Ponder, rookie defensive back

Last year: A St. Francis alum, Ponder originally signed with the Cleveland Browns, but joined the Steelers on Aug. 6 after Derrek Thomas was waived/injured. Ponder played in all 11 games with St. Francis as a senior.

Stats: Made 25 tackles, one for a loss, had two sacks, one interception and broke up 15 passes.

Accolades, Highlights:

Camp outlook: Ponder played cornerback at St. Francis, but the Steelers are listing him as a general defensive back. With a number of injuries in the secondary, especially at safety, where starting free safety Sean Davis has missed most of camp, where Ponder fits is nearly as important to his outlook as how he plays.

Projected role: Tough to say until he gets more reps, but Ponder could battle to be the third slot corner behind Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton, or the fourth free safety behind Davis, Kameron Kelly and Marcus Allen. Either of those would probably figure him in for a practice squad spot.

The rest of the 91:

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Steelers Estimated $3.6m Under Salary Cap after New Contract for Ben Roethlisberger

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The Steelers have are salary cap compliant and have an estimated $3.6 million in breathing room after renegotiating the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday, according to contract figures reported by NFL Network, salary cap data from OverTheCap.com and Steelers Now analysis.

Roethlisberger’s contract, which is technically a five-year deal, but will last only through the 2021 season before being voided will save the team $15.3 million under the 2021 salary cap.

Though the Steelers are finally in the black with regards to the 2021 salary cap, they will still likely need to make additional moves to shore up extra salary cap space. The team will need over $8 million in space to sign its 2021 NFL Draft class, the final two players for the 53-man roster and a practice squad. Only the top 51 contracts count toward the cap in the offseason.

The Steelers’ estimated $3.6 million in cap space is based on a $180 million salary cap, which is based on Steelers Now sources on several national reports. The final salary cap figure for 2021 has not yet been made official.

The team has a three contracts that can be restructured, those of defensive end Stephon Tuitt, kicker Chris Boswell and fullback Derek Watt, that could save the team around another $6 million.

The contracts of guard David DeCastro and cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson could also be extended or re-negotiated. All are entering the final season of their contract.

The Steelers have two dozen pending free agents, including starters Tyson Alualu, Zach Banner, Jordan Berry, James Conner, Bud Dupree, Matt Feiler, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Alejandro Villanueva and key reserves Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton. 

Starting center J.C. Hassenauer and backup inside linebackers Marcus Allen and Robert Spillane are exclusive rights free agents. Backup outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi and wide receiver and kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud are restricted free agents.

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Report: Ben Roethlisberger Took $5m Pay Cut, Lowers Cap Hit by $15m

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed to a new contract for the 2021 season on Thursday and details of the deal are now being reported.

Roethlisberger agreed to a $5 million pay cut as part of a new contract that will technically run through 2025, with the final four seasons becoming void after 2021. 

Roethlisberger was set to earn $4 million in salary and a $15 million roster bonus for 2021, none of which was guaranteed. Instead, he will earn $1.075 million in salary, with $12.925 million converted to guaranteed signing bonus. That signing bonus will be spread over the initial five years of the contract.

That means that Roethlisberger will count for a total of $25.91 million against the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap, a savings of $15.3 million. The details of Roethlisberger’s contract were first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

After the final four years of Roethlisberger’s contract are voided, the Steelers will have $10.3 million of dead money, which will count against the team’s salary cap in 2022 or will be spread out between 2022 and 2023.

Roethlisberger, 39, had a strong season statistically in 2020, passing for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play slide as the team dropped five of its final six games.

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger is the Steelers’ all-time leader in passing yards (60,349), touchdowns (396), completions (5,050) and wins (156).

Steelers Now’s Alan Saunders contributed salary cap information and graphic to this report.

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Steelers Sign Ben Roethlisberger to New Contract for 2021

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have agreed on a new contract for the 2021 season, the club announced Thursday.

“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” General Manager and Vice President Kevin Colbert said. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same – to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

While exact details of the new deal have yet to be reported, it can be assumed that the two sides came to terms on a significant restructuring to have Roethlisberger’s contract fit under the team’s bloated salary cap for 2021.

Roethlisberger was set to count over $41 million towards the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap obligations prior to Thursday’s announcement.

It is also important to note that the contract is not an extension, but simply a one-year deal to keep Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh for the upcoming 2021 campaign.

“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” Roethlisberger said. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team to address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

Roethlisberger had a fine season statistically in 2020, passing for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play dip as the team dropped five of six games to close the year.

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger is the Steelers’ all-time leader in passing yards (60,349), touchdowns (396), completions (5,050) and wins (156).

Roethlisberger turned 39 years old on Tuesday, March 2.

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