Ben Roethlisberger reported to the Steelers' training camp Friday with a bunch of new receivers to break in, but with the same old contract.
While Steelers president Art Rooney II made it clear he wants to re-sign Roethlisberger, who has two seasons left on his current contract, he said Friday a new deal won't be forthcoming before the start of the season. By tradition, the Steelers don't negotiate contracts during a season.
That means the earliest Roethlisberger can sign a new contract is next year, when he would be going into the final year of his current deal.
The Steelers recently gave Maurkice Pouncey a new $48 million contract but, unlike Roethlisberger, the three-time Pro Bowl center had only a season left on his contract.
"I met with Ben Roethlisberger just prior to our signing Maurkice Pouncey to ensure Ben understood our intentions with regard to his contract situation. I talked to Ben about the fact that we are committed to addressing his contract after the 2014 season, so that we can try to address the players who are in the last year of the their contracts," Rooney said in a statement issued Friday by the team.
"Like all of us, Ben wants to be in a position to compete for championships. I think Ben understands our intentions and our commitment to getting his contract done next offseason."
Among the Steelers going into the final season of their contracts are cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Ike Taylor, linebackers Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats, kicker Shaun Suisham and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.
Roethlisberger is starting the seventh year of the $100,105,882 million contract he signed in 2008 and has been restructured numerous times to free up cap room. Generally, NFL teams redo such big-money quarterback contracts far before they end, but Roethlisberger is one of the first — if not the first — to sign such a deal and play nearly to the end of it.
Roethlisberger will make $12.1 million this season, with a salary cap hit of $18.895 million. He is the NFL's sixth highest-paid quarterback, in terms of base salary, trailing Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Sam Bradford and Philip Rivers. Cutler makes $17.5 million this year. Roethlisberger is set to make $11.6 million in 2015, with a cap hit of $18.395 million.
The Steelers risk losing Roethlisberger to free agency if they do not re-sign him before March 2016, but both the quarterback and the Steelers are adamant they want to do a new deal.
Roethlisberger did not talk to reporters on Friday, but told the Tribune-Review during the Steelers' offseason practices that, "All I care about is playing ball in Pittsburgh and giving it everything I have."
When Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers begin practicing Saturday, the quarterback will be working with, among others, new receivers Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Lance Moore.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.