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During an appearance on “The Cook and Poni Show” on 93.7 The Fan Radio in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said he didn’t know how much longer he’d be playing and stopped short of confirming that he would be returning for the 2017 season.
“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”
When pushed further about whether he'd play next season, Big Ben reiterated his wait-and-see approach.
"I'm going to take some time and evaluate with my family and just do a lot of praying about it and make sure it's the right thing for me and my family," he said.
As NFL.com's Kevin suggested, Roethlisberger's comments will largely be met by scoffing and allegations of the quarterback building the drama -- as he is wont to do with injuries during the season. While it'd be a shock if he walks away this year, he'd hardly be the first or last to leave the NFL with plenty left in the tank.
It's no surprise, of course, that head coach Mike Tomlin would prefer Roethlisberger stick around. But Tomlin, who told reporters today that he wants to keep coaching Roethlisberger, also said he will understand if the soon-to-be 35-year-old Roethlisberger decides to walk away.
“Ben said it so you do take it seriously. I’m not alarmed by it, that’s football. Obviously, I’m hopeful he returns,” Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Not surprised by that thought process by Ben. We’ll react and plan accordingly. We haven’t met yet. He’s one of last I meet with.”
Still, Roethlisberger is signed for three more years under an extension signed in 2015 that came with a $31 million signing bonus. Retiring could lead him to pay back some of that bonus while also foregoing $46 million in salary and bonus as well as escalators in the final two years that could lead to a higher payout.
Those are plenty of reasons to keep playing, although Roethlisberger says, for now, that he’s not sure of anything.
If Big Ben did retire, it would be a massive blow to the Steelers, who have failed to cultivate a capable backup for years. Landry Jones, set to be a free agent, spent this year as the backup, with Zach Mettenberger as the third stringer.
Neither QB is capable of keeping the Steelers in the championship hunt.
I'll follow up as needed.