Steelers president: 2021 as Big Ben's final season 'not written in stone'

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If Ben Roethlisberger wants to continue his career beyond 2021, the Pittsburgh Steelers won't rule out bringing him back.

Roethlisberger agreed in March to rework the final year of his current contract, which included a $5-million pay cut to help ease his then-NFL-high cap hit of $41.25 million.

Many assumed the deal was setting the quarterback up for one final ride in Pittsburgh before retirement. But Steelers president Art Rooney II suggested Tuesday that Roethlisberger could return in 2022 if the season goes well.

"It's not written in stone that this is his last year," Rooney said, according to ESPN's Brooke Pryor.

Roethlisberger struggled during the second half of last year after a strong start to the campaign. The 39-year-old was coming off elbow surgery and admitted he had issues with his arm strength as the season wore on.

Those limitations were glaring during Pittsburgh's home playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, with Roethlisberger recording four turnovers.

After the AFC North club's first training camp practice in late July, Roethlisberger stressed that the issues stemming from his elbow injury were behind him, saying his arm felt "really, really good."

The Steelers have yet to create a succession plan for Roethlisberger, who has been their starter since 2004.

"We're aware this could be Ben's last year," said Rooney. "We hope it's a great one. That's as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year, we'll be making decisions on a QB."

Backup Mason Rudolph failed to impress while starting in relief of the injured Roethlisberger in 2019. Meanwhile, Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round pick of the Washington Football Team, joined Pittsburgh this offseason after flaming out in his two seasons with the NFC East club.

Steelers president: 2021 as Big Ben's final season 'not written in stone'
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