Ben Roethlisberger spent all 18 seasons of his NFL career with the Steelers. A recent report indicates he might not be happy with how his final campaign came to an end.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Gerry Dulac was asked in a Q-and-A post whether he believed there was “bad blood” between the future Hall of Fame quarterback and the team with which he spent his career.
“I would say it’s very very safe to assume that,” Dulac wrote in his response.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio expanded on that, noting that while it is a surprising statement, it could be valid. Florio wrote that there were some who believed the Steelers wanted to move on past Roethlisberger before the 2021 season, and instead offered Roethlisberger a cheaper deal that would avoid insulting him, but that would be low enough he would turn down. Florio reported that Roethlisberger took a deal worth $5 million less than what he was originally lined up to make.
The Steelers can’t be faulted for their evaluation that Roethlisberger was on the downward slope of his career. Though he had completed 30 touchdown passes in the 2020 season, his arm strength was waning and his mobility was nearly completely sapped.
In his final season with the Steelers, he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and 3,740 passing yards. Pro Football Focus gave him the lowest passing grade among qualifying quarterbacks at 52.8. The Steelers reached the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round in a 42-21 loss to the Chiefs.
When Roethlisberger announced his retirement in a video earlier in 2022, he thanked many in the Steelers’ organization, including his coaches over the years and the Rooney and Tull families, who own the team.
“To the Rooney family, the Tull family, coach [Mike] Tomlin, coach [Bill] Cowher and all the coaches who have poured into me, the incredible people at every level that make the Pittsburgh Steelers a special organization. Thank you for believing in me, and allowing me to battle with you in pursuit of excellence,” Roethlisberger said. “To all my teammates and the endless friendships I have gained, I appreciate you and our shared commitment to wearing the Black and Gold with pride and dignity. Putting that jersey on every Sunday with my brothers will always be one of the greatest joys of my life.
“To Steeler nation, the best fans in all of sport, thank you for accepting and supporting me as your quarterback over the years. Football has a gift and I thank God for allowing me to play it, surrounding me with great people and protecting me through to the end with love and honor.”
Of course, if Roethlisberger had any grievances with the team, a retirement video is unlikely to be where he would air them out.
The Steelers are now bracing for their first season since 2003 without Roethlisberger starting under center. Pittsburgh signed former Bills backup Mitchell Trubisky and drafted Pitt QB Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft as it prepares for life after Big Ben.