Bruce Arians says he was forced out
Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said he decided to retire only after the team declined to give him a contract offer and that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was unhappy with the team's decision.
While he maintains he had considered retiring before, "when I wasn't offered a contract, it was an easy decision for me," he told the York Daily Record.
Team sources had told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Sunday that the Steelers let Arians' contract expire against the wishes of Roethlisberger. The sources said Steelers president Art Rooney II wants the team to regain its blue-collar identity on offense.
Arians said Rooney II called him about the team's decision to let his contract expire.
So, what was the Steelers' reason? "I can't answer that question," Arians said. "Only the people there can. That's the business. I know the job we did as a staff. I don't have any regrets."
Arians confirmed that Roethlisberger didn't take the news well. He publicly campaigned to keep Arians after the 2009 season when it looked like the coordinator's job was in jeopardy.
"He's not happy, but that's part of the business," Arians said, adding that he and Roethlisberger are neighbors. "He is happy for me."
Arians hasn't ruled out a return to coaching. He said he's been contacted by "five or six" new coaching job possibilities since being let go by the Steelers, although only one was intriguing. He declined to get into specifics.
Arians, 59, has been the only offensive coordinator in coach Mike Tomlin's five seasons with the Steelers. During his time as coordinator, he turned the Steelers from a run-first team to a pass-heavy one to better suit Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh ranked in the top half of the NFL in offense over the past three seasons but finished a disappointing 12th this past season.
The Steelers have a history of promoting from within at offensive coordinator. Arians joined the Steelers in 2004 as the wide receivers coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007.
Information from ESPN.com AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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