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Ben Roethlisberger not committing to 2017 season

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While Tom Brady, Drew Brees and many other aging quarterbacks insist they'll play several more years, Ben Roethlisberger is taking a different route when discussing his future.

The 34-year-old spoke cryptically about retirement when asked by 93.7 The Fan's "The Cook and Poni Show."

"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."

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.

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.

Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he hasn't met with Big Ben yet, but isn't alarmed by the comment

"He said it. So you do take it seriously," the Steelers coach said. "I think that that's a fair assessment in terms of where he is in his career. I'm not alarmed by it. I just think that that's football.

Obviously, I'm hopeful that he returns. His return obviously and the potential for his return or not returning will weigh heavily in our planning. But I'm not alarmed or surprised by that thought process. That's life. He's a significant component, the most significant component of what it is that we do and we'll plan and react accordingly."

Big Ben is coming off a fantastic performance in the AFC Championship Game -- let down repeatedly by his secondary weapons. For a quarterback that's sustained multiple severe injuries during his career, however, he could decide getting banged around by the likes of Terrell Suggs is no longer worth it.

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. The prospect of Big Ben walking away anytime soon is likely to scare the wits out of any Steelers fan.

Given his other comments after the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger's cryptic comments about his future are likely to come to nothing. But it is a reminder to the Steelers that Big Ben is closing in on the back nine of his career.

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