Steelers team president Art Rooney II wants the franchise to look into new contracts to secure the future of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le’Veon Bell.
Roethlisberger, 35, last offseason hinted that he might not play much longer. He flourished in the final seven games of the 2017 regular season and said after the season he’s locked in for the future. He’s signed for two more seasons, but Roethlisberger said he now wants to play several more seasons.
“We haven’t had a long conversation about that other than him saying he is interested in playing beyond his contract,” Rooney said. “That’s good news to me, and certainly his play this year makes you feel like he does have a few years left. All that is great in terms of the contract. We’ll address that at the right time. But bottom line is we’re excited that’s the way he feels and we’ll continue to work with him and hopefully get a couple more rings with him.”
Bell played under the franchise tag in 2017, earning a one-year salary of $12.1 million.
He said at the Pro Bowl last month that getting a new contract done before the franchise tag becomes an option on Feb. 20 is a goal for both sides in the negotiation. Bell said he is in better position with the team in negotiations than he was at this time last year.
Applying the franchise designation in 2018 would cost the Steelers $14.5 million. Bell is thought to be seeking a four- or five-year contract worth at least $45 million, the kind of deal few have found on the running back market.
“With every signing we do, we look at all the facts,” Rooney said about Bell’s deal. “The player on the other side is looking at the same things. The bottom line is, can you come together and have a meeting of the minds? That’s what we’ve got to work on. … I think the good news is both sides want to get something done here, and hopefully that will lead to us getting it done.”
Rooney said the Steelers are encouraged by linebacker Ryan Shazier’s recovery from a spinal injury that required surgery. While any discussion of a playing career is premature, Rooney said the team expects Shazier to have a role with the team in 2018.
–Field Level Media