NFL: Ben Roethlisberger was keen on his return to Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has said it was his idea to take a voluntary pay cut to help his return for an 18th season.

Roethlisberger spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday since accepting a new contract in March securing his return in 2021. The 39-year-old footballer has never played for any organization other than the Steelers.

“I said (to management) that I wanted to help the team in any way I could,” said Roethlisberger. I told them I was going to do whatever I can to help them contract the guys who will help us win. « 

“I knew we had a great defense and a few good pieces up front, so I wanted to come back and be a part of what I believe will be a special team. In order to do this, I felt it necessary to accept a pay cut. « 

The Steelers had made no secret of saying that Roethlisberger was going to have to take a cut from his salary, which would have impacted the team’s payroll by US $ 41 million for 2021.

Steelers Art Rooney II president, head coach Mike Tomlin, and general manager Kevin Colbert all expressed a desire to bring Roethlisberger back, but they insisted on one point: it had to be done in a way that provided financial flexibility to the team.

Roethlisberger was happy to collaborate.

“The blood flowing through my veins and black and gold,” he said. I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I told the Rooney and Coach Tomlin that I wanted to stay. It’s at my house. I’ve spent almost half of my life playing football for the Steelers. This is why I accepted this salary reduction. I want to stay here; I believe in this group. « 

The Steelers won their first 11 games of 2020, en route to a 12-4 season and the North American Division title. But they struggled down the stretch, losing five of their last six games, including a bitch against the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs.

Roethlisberger threw four interceptions in the 48-37 setback.

“I didn’t play well enough at the end of the season,” admitted the quarterback. It’s no secret and I’m the first to blame myself. When the ball is in your hands every game you have to perform the right way. « 

“I felt like I was not at the end of my rope and let the Steelers know that if they wanted to see me again, I could still give them all I have. « 

The Steelers attack is in the midst of a complete overhaul.

Last for ground play in 2020, the Steelers dedicated their top four picks in the 2021 draft, including University of Alabama running back Najee Harris.

Roethlisberger’s salary restructuring also gave them enough funds to convince wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to return for a season.

Veteran center star Maurkice Pouncey has retired, however, as has tight end Vance McDonald. Offensive linemen Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler, as well as offensive back James Conner all enjoyed the autonomy.

The Steelers will also have a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, as Randy Fichtner’s contract has not been renewed.

Roethlisberger is the franchise leader for nearly every major aerial game stat. In 2020, he threw for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions in 15 games after missing most of the 2019 season with a right elbow injury.

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