Ben Roethlisberger Returns to Steelers: With a contract negotiation pending, this is our Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 outlook for betting and fantasy football.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting Big Ben Roethlisberger to return for the 2021 campaign, according to a statement from team president Art Rooney II.
Ben Roethlisberger Returns To Steelers
The first step for Ben Roethlisberger’s return to Pittsburgh is restructuring his contract. The final year of his current deal comes with a $41.2 million cap hit. A Ben Roethlisberger contract restructure and further extension could lower that number to a maximum of about $14 million. Also, Roethlisberger could take a pay cut all the way down to the veteran’s minimum, which would put his cap hit just over $23 million.
Roethlisberger’s last season could not have ended much worse.
After a promising 11-0 start, the Steelers lost four of their final five games of the regular season. Still winning the AFC North with a 12-4 record, the Steelers were bounced from the divisional round by the Kevin Stefanski-less Cleveland Browns, who were without their head coach due to COVID-19. Roethlisberger wept on the sideline of Heinz Field after throwing four interceptions in a huge playoff game and ending a promising season early.
Ben Roethlisberger 2021 Outlook
The Steelers want Roethlisberger back because they do not have anyone else.
By the start of next season, Roethlisberger will be 39. Before his meltdown in the playoffs, he finished with an impressive 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Despite an insurance-policy signing of former Washington bust Dwayne Haskins and a seemingly false nod of faith in Mason Rudolph, the Steelers need Roethlisberger to start.
Roethlisberger will already be without longtime center Maurkice Pouncey, who retired from the NFL as a 9x Pro-Bowler and a 2x All-Pro. Additionally, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and guard Matt Feiler are pending free agents that the Steelers might not be able to afford.
On top of potentially losing three pieces up front, JuJu Smith-Schuster is a free agent. While he has said he wants his legacy to be in Pittsburgh, he will need to see if the Steelers can afford to keep him.
He’ll also have to adjust to new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who doesn’t have experience running an NFL offense but was Big Ben’s QB coach for the past two seasons.
NFL Draft QB Implications
Since they made the postseason, Pittsburgh holds the 24th pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Barring something unforeseen, that takes them out of the running for this draft’s top quarterback prospects like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson. They are even too far back to draft Trey Lance.
They may settle for taking a chance on Mac Jones or Kyle Trask instead — if they choose to invest strongly in a quarterback.
With all the pending holes in their offensive line and a return of Big Ben, it is likely the Steelers wait and draft a project quarterback later in the draft like Rudolph’s selection in 2018.
Ben Roethlisberger/Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Betting Odds
Roethlisberger’s return does not move the needle all too much on betting futures for the Pittsburgh Steelers. BetMGM has the Steelers at +3000 to win the Super Bowl, behind the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. They are +1400 to win the AFC, again, behind the Ravens and Browns.
Despite the presence of an above-average defense and a competent head coach in Mike Tomlin, Roethlisberger’s return does not make the Steelers immediate contenders.
The Steelers have 24 pending free agents, including key members of their defense. Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Avery Williamson are all up for new contracts this spring.
However, despite their less-than-ideal cap space situation, Pittsburgh is still in the running for J.J. Watt, trying to unite him with his brothers Derek and T.J.
Before the Steelers could become a legitimate threat in the AFC, they need to get past Lamar Jackson‘s Ravens and Baker Mayfield‘s Browns in their own division. Powerhouses like the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs still stand in the way of another Pittsburgh title run as well.
Ben Roethlisberger/Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Fantasy Outlook
For fantasy football purposes, Big Ben’s likely return helps boost confidence in drafting Pittsburgh’s Dionte Johnson. If the Steelers are unable to afford Smith-Schuester, Johnson’s workload as the primary target could increase. As a result of a stellar rookie campaign, expect Chase Claypool to shoot up fantasy football draft boards. Pittsburgh’s receiving duo will still have to battle Denzel Ward and Marhson Lattimore in the AFC North.
Both receivers were reliable at their positions in 2020, even with Pittsburgh’s struggles at the end of last season. With Roethlisberger’s return, both wideouts should remain viable threats in 2021.
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