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What Happens if Steelers-Ravens Can’t Be Played Sunday?



The NFL is closely monitoring the situation with the Baltimore Ravens’ COVID-19 outbreak and could once again reschedule the Week 12 game with the Pittsburgh Steelers that has already been pushed back from Thursday to Sunday.

The determining factors in postponing or canceling the game will be whether or not the Ravens are able to stop the continuing spread of the disease amongst its locker room and when they do, if they have enough players available to field a team.

The Ravens continue to get new positive cases, with four new tests, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson, coming in on Thursday. The team’s facility has been closed since Monday, so the average five-day incubation period for the disease means that new cases should be slowing or stopping soon. If Baltimore gets clear tests back Friday and Saturday, the Ravens should be able to play at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore did receive one additional positive test on Friday via a point-of-care test, according to Pro Football Talk. The league’s standard utilizes only the more accurate PCR tests, that have a roughly 24-hour turnaround.

If more positive cases from PCR tests come in Friday and/or Saturday, the game could be pushed back first to Sunday night, which would allow Baltimore to travel to Pittsburgh the day of the game, then a day a time, as far out as Tuesday. The NFL has already had one game moved back to a Tuesday this season.

That would result in Baltimore’s Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys, which is currently scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3, being pushed back to later in the weekend.

The other factor in addition to getting multiple days of clear testing is Baltimore’s ability to field a team. The POC test that came back on Friday gives the Ravens 13 players that have come back with positive tests, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Some of those players that tested positive early in the week could return for Sunday, Monday or Tuesday if they remain asymptomatic. They need back-to-back negative tests separated by 24 hours and must sit out for at least five days. All symptomatic players will have to miss at least 10 days.

Then there are the close contacts of those positive cases. Players that were identified as close contacts on either Monday or Tuesday will have to sit out five days and could return for a game on Sunday, much like Steelers players Ben Roethlisberger and Vince Williams did after Vance McDonald’s positive test. Players identified as close contacts later in the week will likely miss the game.

With 13 players COVID-19 positive, the Ravens could have a couple dozen close contacts. Even with a 53-man roster and a 16-man practice squad, if three dozens Ravens are excluded either by a positive test or by being a close contact, that would give Baltimore just 33 players for game day.
That might be enough to play, but it will depend on the position distributions of that group. The NFL won’t make Baltimore play if they don’t have a quarterback. Starter Lamar Jackson and third-stringer Trace McSorely are both on the COVID-19 list. Baltimore also has significant clusters at center, linebacker and running back.

So if the Ravens can’t clean up their tests in time for a Tuesday game, or don’t have enough players available for a Tuesday game, what happens next?

The NFL hasn’t said for sure. The league has threatened to force teams to forfeit games, for breaking COVID-19 protocols, which the Ravens have admitted that one staff member did. But that seems unlikely.

The league could push the game back to a Week 18, moving the playoffs back a week and absorbing the off week in between the championship games and the Super Bowl.

They could also not play the game, leaving both Pittsburgh and Baltimore with only 15 games played. They’ve developed a contingency plan for that scenario, which would add a Wild Card team to each conference and eliminate byes for any teams.

But that seems like a last resort. As the NFL works through its process, it will start with the game going forward as currently scheduled on Sunday, with options to move it to Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, or a Week 18.

If none of that is able to happen for whatever reason, then and only then would a forfeit even be brought to the table, and it’s more likely that the game would just not be played and considered a no contest.


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



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 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



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



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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