Ben Roethlisberger says he will evaluate his future this offseason

ByJeremy Fowler ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hinted at retirement on his weekly appearance with 93.7 The Fan, saying Tuesday that he will evaluate his future this offseason.

Roethlisberger eventually said he's not making any declarations and talked several times about next season, but he didn't commit to returning in 2017.

When asked how much he has left, Roethlisberger, who will turn 35 in March, said: "I don't know."

"I was talking to my wife about it last night and I've talked to my agent about it and [to] Coach about it. I'm going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there's going to be a next season, all those things," Roethlisberger said. "I think that's, in my point of my career and my age, that's the prudent and smart thing to do every year."

When asked whether he's indeed coming back, Roethlisberger followed up with: "Like I said, I'm going to take some time and evaluate with my family and really do a lot of praying about it and make sure it's the right thing for me and my family."

Roethlisberger added, "I'm not by any means saying I'm not coming back," and he spoke at length about plans for the 2017 season. He is due around $19 million next season as part of a five-year extension that has three seasons left.

"I'm just saying in this point in my career, I think it's prudent -- just like I'm sure James [Harrison] is doing and other guys who have been in this league a long time -- to evaluate and just make sure. You want to be able to leave this game walking out of it in a healthy spot. You don't want to be 'carted out.'"

Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the local media at noon Tuesday. He said Roethlisberger has expressed similar concerns to him in the past, but the two haven't had their exit interview yet.

"You do take it seriously," Tomlin said. "I think that's a fair assessment in terms of where he's at in his career. I'm not alarmed by it. I just think that's football. Obviously I'm hopeful that he returns. ... But I'm not alarmed or surprised by that thought process. That's life. He's a significant component -- the most significant component -- to what it is that we do. We'll plan accordingly."

Tomlin said he'll have a better assessment of Roethlisberger's future when the two talk, likely this week.

Two sources told ESPN that they'd be surprised if Roethlisberger actually retired, but they respect the process.

Roethlisberger also delivered harsh assessments of the Steelers' 36-17 loss to the New England Patriotson Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Roethlisberger said the Patriots "outcoached us, they outplayed us."

When pointing to red zone struggles during the playoffs, Roethlisberger said everything must improve, including his own play, "my playcalling and Coach [Todd] Haley's playcalling."

In 2016, Roethlisberger completed 328 of 509 passes (64.4 percent) for 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games. Roethlisberger is ninth all time in NFL passing touchdowns with 301 and 10th in passing yardage with 46,814.

He has produced some of his biggest numbers in recent years, throwing for 4,952 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2014 and a league-high 328 passing yards per game in 2015. This year, Roethlisberger was among the league's least-sacked quarterbacks with 17.

General manager Kevin Colbert told ESPN last offseason that the organization felt Roethlisberger had at least three to four prime years left.

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