Will Ben Roethlisberger retire following the 2021 NFL season?

Is Ben Roethlisberger set to retire this season, ending what has been a remarkable career in Pittsburgh for the likely future Hall of Famer?

It appears as though Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career is drawing to a close with the Pittsburgh Steelers QB seemingly on the verge of retiring after this season. Let’s take a look at whether Roethlisberger will retire after the season, look back at his career, and discuss his Hall of Fame credentials.

Will Ben Roethlisberger retire in 2022?

It would appear as though Roethlisberger is heading towards retiring in 2022. This is the final year of Roethlisberger’s contract with the Steelers, and from the way he has spoken recently, it does not seem like he will be back. Given that Roethlisberger has been with the Steelers since 2004, it seems unlikely he would chase a final contract with another team.

Roethlisberger has played for the Steelers for 18 years, starting 245 games in that time. As it stands entering Week 17, he has never been on a team that has had a losing season. While wins are not solely a QB stat, it is impressive that the Steelers QB has managed to play that long and his team has never — to this point — gone below .500. If he maintains that through the end of the season, that alone could be reason enough for Roethlisberger to retire.

Roethlisberger’s career stats at Heinz Field

Roethlisberger has impressive career stats as a whole. If we just look at his time playing in Heinz Field compared to on the road, his numbers are excellent. In 123 games at home, he has a 92-31 record and a 65.13% completion rate with 32,496 passing yards, 253 touchdowns, and just 93 interceptions. His passer rating at home is 98.6, compared to 89.0 on the road.

Those stats stand out because Heinz Field is not an easy place to play. It is open to the elements and can often be both cold and windy, which can hamper the passing game. To put Roethlisberger’s stats into context, we can compare his number at home to Drew Brees.

Roethlisberger and Brees by the numbers

The now-retired QB played his home games either in a dome in New Orleans or the temperate conditions of San Diego. During his long career, Brees played 145 games at home, managing a 93-52 record. His numbers are slightly better, but not significantly so. Brees completed 68.6% of his passes for 42,286 yards with 332 touchdowns and 119 interceptions. His passer rating at home landed at 103.8 — compared to 93.5 on the road.

If we look at his per-game stats, Roethlisberger averaged 264.2 yards, 1.9 touchdowns, and just 0.76 interceptions per game. Meanwhile, Brees averaged 291.6 yards per game, 2.3 touchdowns, and 0.82 interceptions per game. Brees also averaged 3 more passes per game than Roethlisberger. There is a difference, but Roethlisberger’s numbers at home are impressive given the environment he played his career in.

A trip to Canton is surely in the cards

Roethlisberger will have to wait five years after his retirement to be eligible, but there is little doubt he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame when the opportunity arises. Unless Tom Brady decides to retire this year, there will likely be no other major QB eligible to be voted in at the same time as Roethlisberger. Therefore, Roethlisberger could very easily be a first-ballot Hall of Fame QB.

The only thing that could stop him is a potential logjam in the years proceeding him. In a short space of time, fellow 2004 NFL Draft class QBs Eli Manning and Philip Rivers will both be eligible. Brees can get in the year before Roethlisberger. If Manning is not voted in on the first ballot, there could easily be three eligible QBs vying for votes in the year before Roethlisberger becomes eligible. That could leave for an interesting comparison between the careers of Roethlisberger, Manning, and Rivers.

Roethlisberger vs. Eli Manning vs. Philip Rivers

The 2004 NFL Draft class will always have a level of intrigue. All three of these QBs are highly respected. Roethlisberger and Manning each have the two Super Bowls, while Rivers has the statistics to match both of them. Here are the headline career stats for each of the three entering Week 17.

Roethlisberger: 245 starts, 163-81-1, 64.5% completion rate, 63,721 passing yards, 7.6 yards per attempt, 416 touchdowns (5.0%), 209 interceptions (2.5%), 93.8 passer rating

Manning: 234 starts, 117-117, 60.3% completion rate, 57,023 passing yards, 7.0 yards per attempt, 366 touchdowns (4.5%), 244 interceptions (3.0%), 84.1 passer rating

Rivers: 240 starts, 134-106, 64.9% completion rate, 63,440 passing yards, 7.8 yards per attempt, 421 touchdowns (5.2%), 209 interceptions (2.6%), 95.2 passer rating

When you look at those numbers, Roethlisberger stands atop the pyramid thanks to both his stats and his two Super Bowl rings. All three QBs had remarkable careers, but if there is a logjam at the QB position when Roethlisberger is eligible, it is the Steelers QB who should be the first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

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

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