Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has officially informed the team that he plans on returning for his 14th NFL season.
Informed the team I am looking forward to my 14th season. Steeler Nation will get my absolute best! — Ben.
— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) April 7, 2017
Following the Steelers loss in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, Roethlisberger said he wouldn’t commit to returning for another season and was evaluating his future.
“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season,” he said.
At the time, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t surprised by Roethlisberger’s comments.
“Ben said it so you do take it seriously,” Tomlin said. “I’m not alarmed by it, that’s football. Obviously, I’m hopeful he returns.”
Although the team — and everyone else from Pittsburgh to Poughkeepsie — expected Roethlisberger to return for at least one more season, they respected his process of taking time to make sure it was, without any doubt, what he wanted to do.
“As an organization, we have been hopeful that Ben would return this year,” Tomlin told the Steelers’ website Friday. “Ben and I have had many conversations, and I understood at this point in his career he is going to have to think about his long-term future. There is no question Ben wants to win championships for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and we know he will do everything possible to lead our entire team to achieving that goal.”
Roethlisberger signed a five-year, $99 million contract in March 2015 that included a $31 million signing bonus. If he retired the Steelers could have asked him to repay a portion of the signing bonus in addition to forfeiting the final three years of the contract that is set to pay him $36 million in salary, $12 million each season through 2019.
The 35-year-old has been the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh since 2004, leading the team to nine playoff appearances and two Super Bowl titles in 13 years. He’s one of only 11 quarterbacks in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowls.
Roethlisberger is now expected to report for the start of organized team activities (OTAs) starting April 23.