Rooney: Big Ben must retire as a Steeler

Updated: January 8, 2014, 7:26 PM ET


By
Scott Brown | ESPN.com


PITTSBURGH — Steelers president Art Rooney II said a contract extension for Ben Roethlisberger will happen at some point, noting he wants the franchise quarterback to finish his career where he started it.

“We’ve got to have Ben retire as a Steeler,” Rooney said Wednesday. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Roethlisberger, who turns 32 in March, has two years left on his contract. The Steelers signed him to an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008, when he had two years left on his original contract.

Rooney wouldn’t commit to the Steelers doing the same this offseason, but he is confident a deal will get done that allows Roethlisberger to accomplish his stated goal of playing his entire career with Pittsburgh.

“When both sides are able to come together on an extension. I don’t know when that will be, but there’s no doubt we look at Ben as somebody who’s going to be here for the long term and hopefully five or more years,” Rooney said.

Roethlisberger played every snap this season and threw for 4,261 yards while setting a Steelers record for completions in a season (375) and becoming the franchise’s career leader in touchdown passes (219).

He thrived in his 10th season, particularly after the Steelers started running their no-huddle offense. His play was one of the biggest seasons the team went 6-2 in the second half of the season to finish 8-8 and just outside of the playoffs.

Rooney said he is pleased with the direction of the offense, which is a strong indication that Todd Haley will return for a third season as offensive coordinator.

“I think the second year of a new offense, you would hope for progress, and I think that’s what we got,” Rooney said. “I think Ben showed the kind of leadership that he’s capable of both on and off the field, getting through what was a very trying first half of the season. I think he was certainly one of the guys that kept the ship running in the right direction.”

Rooney said coach Mike Tomlin is still evaluating his staff and that he would not comment on coaches until that process is complete. Tomlin already has made one change, firing offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. on Friday after just one season.

“We feel good about the coaching staff in general, and we’ll see where we go,” Rooney said. “I certainly like the way we finished the season. There are a lot of things we can build on, in particular a lot of young players showed that they have what it takes to be good players in this league. We’re excited about getting started on next year.”

  • Covered Steelers for six years for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  • Author of five books, including “Heaven Sent: The Heather Miller Story,” which highlights the friendship a young girl with cancer developed with several Steelers players

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