Art Rooney II Stakes Reputation on Roethlisberger Contract Stance

Art-Rooney-IIEarlier today, Steelers Team President Art Rooney II made clear that the team will not start negotiating an extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger until next offseason when he has just one year remaining on his deal.

While the Steelers will usually extend players who are entering the final year of their contracts, they’ve also been known to extend QBs with two years left.

Obviously, this shift in the paradigm is creating consternation for some in Steeler Nation. In my opinion, ARII has put the words in print that he intends to get a new deal done for his quarterback.

If he doesn’t, it’s his reputation that takes the hit.

Social media as expected was a flurry of action once the news hit. Some of the reaction was positive while some was negative.

I’m providing the text from the article by steelers.com’s Bob Labriola as well as a link below and here. Rooney II’s comments are in bold. Let us know your thoughts on this decision.

As it turns out, the Steelers did talk contract this offseason with Ben Roethlisberger. Allow Steelers President Art Rooney II to explain.

“I met with Ben shortly before we did the Maurkice Pouncey signing (in the middle of June) just to make sure Ben understood where we were with our intentions as far as a contract extension for him,” said Rooney. “I just didn’t want him to feel like we were moving ahead with other players without any communication.

“And so I talked to Ben, and then we talked with his agent Ryan Tollner about where we are and the fact we intend on addressing Ben’s contract situation after the season, so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014. I think Ben understands that’s our intention and the way we’d like to proceed. I think we had a good conversation.”

The dialogue was initiated by the Steelers so that Roethlisberger and agent Ryan Tollner understood the team’s plan with respect to this offseason’s strategy for signing players, and also understood that the commitment to its franchise quarterback has not wavered. 

The Steelers’ philosophy is to extend contracts that have one year to go before expiration, with the exception of quarterbacks, whose deals can be extended two years before expiring. Roethlisberger’s current contract runs through the 2015 season, which made him a candidate for an extension, but circumstances – including the team’s current cap situation, plus the number of players entering the final years of their deals, plus the additional increase in the salary cap anticipated next March – led the team to this strategy.

“Yes, all of those things are factors in the decision,” said Rooney. “The other key thing is that Ben wants to be part of a winning team, to be in a position to compete for championships, and he understands that in order to do that we need to try to keep as many of the other players around as we can. So, addressing the players who are going into the final years of their contracts in 2014 makes sense. That’s what he and I talked about.

“We also talked to Ryan, just so that there was communication with him as well, so that they understood the direction in which we wanted to proceed. We wanted to make sure they were understanding that we do want to make a commitment, that we do want to address Ben’s contract next year. It’s not a situation where we’re saying we want to put it on hold. We did assure him that next year is the time frame in which we want to address it.”

The salary cap jumped by $10 million last March to a total of $130 million per team, and it is expected the cap will increase again in 2015.

“We believe the cap will go up again next year,” said Rooney, “and so from a cap planning standpoint, next year will be a better situation for us to address a franchise quarterback type of contract.”

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.

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