Time on Steelers and Big Ben's side

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
6:50
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of work ahead of them this offseason and getting a new deal done with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger does not appear to be real high on their priorities list.

Nor should it be and that’s nothing against Roethlisberger.

Steelers president Art Rooney II, in fact, couldn’t say enough about Roethlisberger on Wednesday, from the latter's superb play last season to the leadership he showed in helping keep the team together following a brutal 0-4 start.

If Rooney did not express any sense of urgency regarding the contract status of the Steelers’ franchise quarterback that is because the two sides share the two most important things: the same ground as far as Roethlisberger’s future with the team as well as time.

The Steelers realistically have three years to re-sign Roethlisberger since the organization could use the franchise tag on the two-time Super Bowl winner after the 2015 season if the two sides haven’t agreed to a new deal by then.

Not that it will ever get to that point, but with time anything but of the essence when it comes to Roethlisberger’s third and final contract with the Steelers, the team has to focus on more immediate issues.

The Steelers have tough decisions to make as far as which players they want to keep -- and are able to keep with the salary cap only expected to get a slight bump in 2014 -- and which of their own free agents they want to sign.

If Roethlisberger has to wait for a new contract while the Steelers try to re-sign outside linebacker Jason Worilds or convince some of their veterans to accept less money and possibly reduced roles he should be fine with it.

Roethlisberger, after all, values winning just slightly below breathing. Whatever the Steelers can do to build on their 6-2 finish and reestablish themselves as Super Bowl contenders, Roethlisberger should be the first to endorse.

Even if it pushes back the inevitable extension later rather than sooner.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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