Ben Roethlisberger’s Contract Details, Salary Cap Impact, and Bonuses

Despite starting the season 11-0, a lot has been made about Ben Roethlisberger’s performances, raising questions about his contract situation. Let’s take a look at Ben Roethlisberger’s new contract, the salary owed to him, and what options the Steelers have in 2021.

Ben Roethlisberger’s contract details & bonuses

In 2019, the Steelers signed Ben Roethlisberger to a two-year contract extension. The contract was worth $68 million, with $37.5 million guaranteed at signing (all of which came in the form of a signing bonus). However, with Roethlisberger due a $12.5 million roster bonus in 2020, the Steelers restructured his deal.

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Following the restructure, Roethlisberger counted $23.75 million against the cap in 2020. However, that salary cap number was due to jump significantly in 2021. On March 4, Ian Rapoport reported that Ben Roethlisberger had signed a new deal with the Steelers for 2021.

Roethlisberger has one year remaining on his contract

2021 will be the final year of Ben Roethlisberger’s two-year contract extension. However, the Steelers had a tough decision to make. Roethlisberger was due to be paid a $15 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2021 league year. The Steelers could have avoided paying that if they were to cut Roethlisberger. Additionally, none of Ben Roethlisberger’s $4 million in base salary was guaranteed.

With the restructure in 2021, Roethlisberger reduced his $19 million in salary and roster bonus to $14 million in total. The Steelers also added 4 void years to the deal, which will spread the $12.95 million signing bonus across 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025. Roethlisberger will have a $10.4 million cap hit in 2022 when those void years accelerate onto the cap. Therefore, Roethlisberger has a $25.9 million cap hit in 2021.

How does Ben Roethlisberger’s contract affect the Steelers’ salary cap?

The problem with Ben Roethlisberger’s cap was thanks to the previous restructuring of the deal. When the two-year contract extension was signed, the $37.5 million signing bonus was prorated across 2019, 2020, and 2021. That cap hit calculated out to be $12.5 million per year. However, with the Steelers needing cap space in 2020, they had to adjust Roethlisberger’s contract.

The restructure had pushed a lot of money into 2021

As part of the contract restructure in 2020, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers converted salary and roster bonus into a $19.5 million restructure bonus. That restructure bonus was then prorated across the remaining years of the deal. Therefore, in 2020 and 2021, Roethlisberger has a total of $22.25 million in prorated bonus money counting against the salary cap.

Combining that money with the $15 million roster bonus and Ben Roethlisberger’s $4 million base salary, added up to a salary cap hit of $41.25 million. That $41.25 million would have represented nearly 20 percent of the Steelers’ 2021 projected salary cap.

With the restructure, the Steelers save $15.3 million in salary cap space. Roethlisberger will have the $24.84 million in prorated bonus, plus $1.075 million in salary in 2021 — that will leave $10 million in salary cap dead money in 2022.

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Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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