By Nick Shook
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Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke on his future as the man under center for the Steelers on Friday.
To no one’s surprise, it looks like he’ll be coming back.
Roethlisberger said he’s “leaning towards it” — it being returning to play for Pittsburgh in 2017 — when speaking at Liberty University on Friday, per the Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania).
Roethlisberger provided cause for concern at the beginning of the offseason, saying he was “going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options.” The 35-year-old quarterback, who’s played through injuries seemingly more often than most quarterbacks in recent history, dealt with another in Pittsburgh’s run to the AFC Championship Game, which ended in bitter defeat at the hands of New England. It’s understandable for Roethlisberger to seriously consider his football mortality in 2017.
It’s not all that believable, though, to think Roethlisberger would abruptly hang it up after his Steelers team put things together in the second half of the season, winning the AFC North and two playoff games before falling to the Patriots. The return of Antonio Brown on a new contract, a healthy Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant (who’s awaiting reinstatement) has to make it even more difficult to consider retirement. And we can’t forget the fact Pittsburgh doesn’t really have much of a contingency plan for life without Roethlisberger beyond backup Landry Jones, who isn’t inspiring much confidence.
This little “will he, won’t he” — vaguely reminiscent of Brett Favre’s final half-decade of his career — should serve as a friendly message to Steelers management, which would be wise to explore a reality without the future Hall of Fame quarterback before it’s suddenly too late.