Does Ben Roethlisberger want out? Is he done playing football, sticking around just because he doesn't want to pay the Steelers a big chunk of his $31 million signing bonus? Some think so.
"I think that [Roethlisberger] would have retired last offseason if he wouldn't have owed the Steelers $18.6 million," Florio said. "I think that's what it comes down to."
Florio is right about Roethlisberger's contract. The five-year, $99 million deal Roethlisberger signed before the 2015 season featured a $31 million signing bonus, which he would have to pay back (in part) if he were to retire early.
If he had retired before this year, Roethlisberger would have owed the Steelers 60% of that signing bonus.
"To write a check for 18.6 million for the privilege of not playing football anymore? That's probably not acceptable," Florio said. "And I just wonder, is his heart in it, or has he decided, 'I'm coming back so I don't have to pay this money.'?"
Interestingly, if the Steelers cut him, he wouldn't have to pay back a dime. Florio thinks that might be his angle, whether he has admitted it to himself or not.
"I think he may be, at some level, hoping for that — that they just decide 'forget it, we're done. It's not worth $12 million.'"
It's not a stretch to say Roethlisberger played the worst game of his 14-year career against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. You might disagree about the specifics, and we could get into a depressing argument about it, but he's certainly never thrown five interceptions in a game before.
After the 30-9 loss, Roethlisberger said to reporters, "Maybe I don't have it anymore."
Wow. That's a pretty negative thing for an NFL starting quarterback to say — not something we're used to hearing from Big Ben or anybody else.
Could it be that he really wants to be done?
Since Roethlisberger came into the league in 2004, he has been sacked 465 times. Two more sacks and he will pass Drew Bledsoe for the fifth most of all time. Not a great top five to be a part of.
He's beat up. He's won his rings. He's made his money. Could you blame him for wanting out?