Art Rooney II: Steelers planning for Ben Roethlisberger return once contract is worked out 

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II confirmed the club wants Ben Roethlisberger back in 2021.

Rooney said in a statement that he met with Big Ben on Tuesday and sides agreed that they'll continue their partnership once the contract situation is worked out.

"Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday morning and we had a productive meeting," Rooney said in a statement. "We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship.

"We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben's contract situation."

Rooney's statement meshes with what Big Ben's agent relayed to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala on Tuesday, that the club wants the QB back.

The biggest part of the equation has yet to be figured out: Roethlisberger's contract.

The soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback is due to count $41.25 million against the salary cap on the final year of his deal. It's an untenable figure for the club, particularly with the salary cap expected to drop. Regardless of whether he is on the roster or not, he would count $22 million against the cap.

Now that the club and QB have decided that Big Ben will remain in Pittsburgh for at least one more season, sides must now agree upon a solution to lower that cap figure. Roethlisberger is due $19 million in salary and roster bonuses this season. That amount alone is average for a starting signal-caller, ranking 14th in the NFL currently.

At this stage, the question is whether the club will ask Big Ben to shave off some of that salary or work out an extension that allows the two-time Super Bowl champ to get his money but pushes some of the salary cap liability to future years.

Roethlisberger and the offense struggled in 2020, collapsing late in the season. After 17 NFL seasons, one wonders whether Big Ben still has enough left in the tank to compete at a high level. A lack of run game, receiver drops and O-line injuries didn't help a QB coming off a serious elbow injury last season. Given their cap-strapped nature, it's unclear what type of offense the Steelers can build to bolster the aging QB.

After GM Kevin Colbert offered vague generalities regarding Roethlisberger's future last week led to questions about whether the QB could be cut, Rooney's statement clarified the issues. Big Ben will be back in Pittsburgh -- once the contract situation is attended to.

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