Ben Roethlisberger unsure if he'll play beyond 2017

There is no guarantee Ben Roethlisberger plays beyond 2017.

The five-time Pro Bowler's reasons are wide ranging. From a desire to spend more time with his family to the hope that he'll avoid serious long-term injuries, he laid out a compelling case during an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday while echoing some of the same end-of-the-road sentiments he expressed at the end of the 2016 season -- a time he also flirted with retirement.

"Age," Roethlisberger said, then laughed. "It's just, it's 14 years; that's a long time. I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is 3 years, maybe 3.5 now.

"I've been blessed to do this a long time. I think it's just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that, but it still consumes you in a way.

"Just all those things combined -- being healthy, being able to play catch with my kids. I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players' brains who were studied had CTE.

"There's a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be OK if I hung it up, too. But I still love the guys, I still love the game, so it was right for me to come back and give it everything I have this year."

Roethlisberger, 35, went on to say his current disposition wasn't the result of lingering wounds from the 2016 season, even though, as NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala noted at the time, the quarterback was unhappy with some of his teammates.

As Kinkhabwala mentioned on Inside Training Camp Live on Friday, this is Roethlisberger being honest, though it is a version of the same tactics he's employed in the past. On top of being how he feels, Roethlisberger knows the end of his career could provide a sense of urgency for the players around him. The Steelers would be nowhere near Super Bowl contention without Roethlisberger. Five years from age 40, the QB eliminating any complacency is a worthwhile endeavor to start the season.

It feels like a dance we're destined to do with Roethlisberger for a little while, though the Steelers cannot say he didn't give them warning. With rookie Joshua Dobbs and 2013 fourth-round pick Landry Jones on the roster, are they prepared for life without Big Ben?

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