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Report: Steelers optimistic Ben Roethlisberger will return in 2021

The Steelers think their franchise quarterback will return in 2021. We break down what it means and what still needs to be sorted out.

Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Cleveland Browns on January 11, 2021 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a host of issues to figure out in the 2021 offseason, but they are optimistic about the outcome of one of them. Mike Garafolo is reporting the organization is optimistic quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return in 2021.

Roethlisberger would have to play with a new offensive coordinator after Randy Fichtner’s departure. The offense likely would not see significant change, but any change for a long-time veteran is notable.

The biggest issue if Roethlisberger chooses to return is his contract. He is entering the final year of a deal that pays him $4 million in base salary and a $15 million roster bonus. The issue is that previous restructurings have resulted in a cap hit of $41 million thanks to $22,250,000 in prorated bonus money. Any restructuring would likely involve a contract extension that converts the roster bonus to a signing bonus and potentially lowers the base salary to the veteran minimum.

Even if Roethlisberger were to retire after the 2021 season, this would help spread the cap hits over a few years. It’s further mortgaging, but it offers a chance to make at least one more title run before the franchise QB retires.