Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger briefly stole the headlines from Super Bowl LI this week when Big Ben said he would be pondering playing again in 2017. Just about no one believes he will retire, including the Bovada sportsbook.
I'll just cut to the chase here and say there's no way that Ben Roethlisberger hangs up his cleats this offseason. He was obviously disappointed after Pittsburgh's one-sided loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game and beaten up both physically and emotionally. Thus his potential retirement talk.
On a radio show earlier this week, here's what Big Ben said: "I’m gonna take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season — if there’s gonna be a next season. I think at [this] point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year."
When asked directly if he would return for the 2017 season, the future Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion added: "Like I said, I’m gonna take some time to evaluate with my family and really do a lot of praying about it and make sure it’s the right thing for me and my family."
Those quotes were the biggest NFL news of the week with it being largely a dead period regarding the Super Bowl until the Falcons and Patriots head to Houston. It is known around the NFL that Roethlisberger is a bit of a drama queen and he likes the attention. But would you walk away from tens of millions of dollars in your pseudo-prime?
On Bovada's NFL odds, that Roethlisberger is on the Pittsburgh roster for Game 1 of the 2017 season is -1000 with no at +550.
Big Ben will be 35 in March, and he had a fine 2016 season, throwing for 3,189 yards and 29 touchdowns in 14 games. True, he struggled in the playoffs, but he was much worse on the road than at home all year. Should he quit, Roethlisberger would be walking away from salaries of $12 million in 2017, $17 million in 2018 and $17 million in 2019. Not just that, he would owe the team $18.6 million if he quits now as Big Ben would have to repay that portion of his signing bonus. It would be $12.4 million a year from now and $6.2 million in 2019 that he would owe.
There was some talk that Roethlisberger was getting fed up with the immaturity of star receiver Antonio Brown, but he's still one of the top three receivers in the NFL. Roethlisberger and Brown have connected 506 times since 2013, but their chemistry appeared a bit off at times in 2016.
Assuming Big Ben does return, the Steelers will again be a top AFC contender and have one of the NFL's top offenses in 2017. Remember, Pittsburgh welcomes back big-play receiver Martavis Bryant from a suspension that cost him all of 2016 (unless he does something stupid again). The Steelers are currently +1800 on early NFL picks to win Super Bowl LII.
Long story short: Roethlisberger is coming back, but it might be time for the Steelers to draft his eventual replacement.