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Here is What Art Rooney II Said About Big Ben Possibly Playing Beyond 2021

Photo: Justin K. Aller

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II isn't ruling out the possibility of having Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback beyond the 2021 NFL season.

"It's not written in stone that this is his last year," Rooney told reporters at Steelers training camp on Tuesday via ESPN's Brooke Pryor.

Roethlisberger is signed to a restructured one-year deal, which means his contract will expire after the 2021 season, one many expect to be his last.

"We're aware this could be Ben's last year," Rooney said. "We hope it's a great one. That's as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year we'll be making decisions on a quarterback, and we'll address it as the time comes up."

Roethlisberger agreed to take a pay cut in order to help out the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.

During a media session in June, the 39-year-old quarterback said he suggested taking a $5 million pay reduction in order to help the Steelers free up $15 million in cap space.

"I told them I want to help the team out however we can," Roethlisberger said via Sports Illustrated. "I went to them and told them I'll do whatever I could to help the team sign the guys that are going to help us win football games. I've been extremely blessed to play this game a long time. That was one of the reasons I wanted to come back. I knew we had a great defense and amazing weapons on offense.
"I wanted to come back and be part of a special football team, one that everyone is overlooking, which is kind of cool, too. In order to help get the guys, I felt it was necessary to do that."

The Steelers were able to re-sign Zach Banner, Cameron Sutton, Tyson Alualu, and Juju Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger's primary wide receiver, as well as several additional free agents with the additional cap space.

"I felt it was the right thing to do if I wanted to play," Roethlisberger said. "I felt relatively healthy, all things considered at the end of the season. It just felt like I had more in the tank and felt disappointed with the way the season ended, obviously, and I hated to go out that way."

Roethlisberger and the Steelers agreed on a new contract in March for the 2021 season, which will be his 18th with the franchise after being selected No. 11 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Rooney will present former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher during the coach's Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday honoring the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class after last year's ceremony was rescheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Three other former Steelers will be recognized during the weekend ceremonies. Former safety Troy Polamalu, former offensive lineman Alan Faneca, and former team scout Bill Nunn (1924-2014) will also be enshrined during the ceremony for this year's class, which will be held on August 8.

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