PITTSBURGH — Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels is expected to miss approximately a month after having arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday, head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday.
Samuels suffered a knee sprain in the Steelers’ 26-23 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
“That’s something that showed up after the game,” Tomlin said at his weekly press conference. “We had him evaluated and saw that was necessary. So we made the decision to fix it and fix it ASAP. It was fixed yesterday.”
Samuels had three carries for two yards and three catches for 11 yards against the Ravens. He also threw an interception on a pass out of the Wildcat formation. He also had one completion for four yards.
The Steelers have leaned significantly on Samuels’ versatility through five weeks, lining him up as a Wildcat quarterback, a second back alongside James Conner in two-back sets in addition to spelling Conner as the primary ballcarrier.
Fourth-round rookie Benny Snell is the only other running back on the roster and will be expected to get some of Samuels’ carries, but probably will not be able to play the Swiss Army knife role that Samuels does.
“When we had red paint, we painted our barn red. OK, now maybe yellow,” Tomlin said. “We’ll continue to lean on the strengths of our collective group and work to minimize the weaknesses.”
Tomlin said that Snell has been “champing at the bit” to be more involved in the Steelers’ offense. He’s been primarily a special teams contributor in his first five games.
Tomlin said that the Steelers could make a roster move to address their lack of depth at running back. Second-year running back Trey Edmunds is on the practice squad as the only other running back in the building.
Art Rooney: Meeting with Ben Roethlisberger ‘Productive,’ Work to Be Done on Contract
Steelers president Art Rooney II acknowledged his meeting with team quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday, but said no agreement has been made with regards to his contract situation for the 2021 season.
Rooney said that the team desires to have Roethlisberger return for an 18th season in 2021, and Roethlisberger re-affirmed his desire to return to the team.
“Ben Roethlisberger and I met (Tuesday) morning and we had a productive meeting,” Rooney said in a statement. “We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship.
“We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben’s contract situation.”
Roethlisberger had already publicly stated that he wanted to return to the team. Rooney and Steelers general manger Kevin Colbert have been more guarded about Roethlisberger’s future in the past.
It seems clear now that both sides are committed to Roethlisberger returning, but the contract details could still represent a significant hurdle. Roethlisberger is currently set to cost more than $41 million toward the team’s salary cap in 2021. Of that, almost $19 million is able to be modified through either a salary reduction or an extension to move some of that money to 2022 or beyond.
The Steelers are approximately $12.4 million above a projected $180.5 million salary cap, according to a Steelers Now estimate. The official salary cap for the 2021 has not yet been released, but is expected to be between $180 and $185 million, according to Steelers Now sources. NBC Sports reported on Tuesday that it could come it at $182-183 million.
The Steelers will need to be under the maximum salary by March 17. Reducing Roethlisberger’s cap hit is just one of several ways the Steelers can get under the cap figure. They can also restructure more contracts, as they did with defensive tackle Cam Heyward on Monday, but restructuring alone will not solve the cap issue.
Report: Ben Roethlisberger’s Agent Says He Will Return in 2021
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner reportedly says he will return as the team’s quarterback in 2021, according to NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala.
Kinkhabwala tweeted Tuesday she had spoken with Tollner, who confirmed the Steelers want Roethlisberger back in the fall, and will soon reach out to his agent to rectify his massive cap hit.
“As we’ve shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible,” Tollner told Kinkhabwala. “A year ago, Ben wasn’t sure if he could throw again, but he battled back to get 12 wins and the 8th division title of his career. They lost steam down the stretch and that doesn’t sit well for him, so the fire burns strong and there is plenty of gas in the tank.”
Roethlisberger’s $41 million cap hit is the largest in the league entering the 2021 season, which poses a significant obstacle for the Steelers. He could forgo up to nearly $18 million of his salary for this upcoming season to provide the team some much-needed breathing room.
Roethlisberger finished with a successful season statistically in 2020, but was plagued by inconsistency, as the Steelers dropped five of six following an 11-0 start.
The two-time Super Bowl champion passed for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play drop over the latter half of the year.
Roethlisberger is set to turn 39 years old on March 2.
Report: Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger Met to Discuss Future
The Pittsburgh Steelers met with star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to begin discussions on his contract situation for the 2021 season, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.
Roethlisberger met with team president Art Rooney II and the meeting “went well,” according to Dulac.
The two sides had not come together to discuss Roethlisberger’s future since just after the end of the 2020 season in January.
Rooney and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert have said that Roethlisberger and the team will need to come to an agreement on contract modifications that will reduce his salary cap hit for the 2021 season.
Roethlisberger is currently set to cost more than $41 million toward the team’s salary cap in 2021. Of that, almost $19 million is able to be modified through either a salary reduction or an extension to move some of that money to 2022 or beyond.
The Steelers will need to be under the maximum salary by March 17. Reducing Roethlisberger’s cap hit is just one of several ways the Steelers can get under the cap figure.
They can also restructure more contracts, as they did with defensive tackle Cam Heyward on Monday, but restructuring alone will not solve the cap issue.