Ben Roethlisberger toyed with thoughts of retirement after the Steelers lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game in January.
Now he’s put those toys back in the toybox.
Roethlisberger announced Friday that he’ll play in 2017, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Two days after the Steelers’ 36-17 playoff loss at Gillette Stadium, Roethlisberger said this on his weekly radio show on 93.7 in Pittsburgh.
“I’m gonna 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 gonna be a next season.”
Those words hung over Pittsburgh for the next two months like soot from the steel mills in the 19th and 20th centuries, even if few thought Roethlisberger would actually retire at age 35.
From there, Roethlisberger said last month that he was “leaning toward” a return. Finally on Friday he made his decision official. The Steelers now are likely to scratch “quarterback” off the list of positions to address in the first round of the upcoming draft. They could draft one in a later round because they still have to think about an eventual replacement for Roethlisberger.
His age notwithstanding, this would have been an odd time for Roethlisberger to walk away. Not only have the Steelers advanced one round further in the playoffs in each of the last three years, but Roethlisberger was sacked just 17 times last season, the fewest in his career. He was sacked 20 times in 2015, the second-fewest in his career.
With Roethlisberger returning, the Steelers have a realistic chance to win their seventh Super Bowl and their third with Roethlisberger as quarterback if they can find a way to get past the Patriots.
If Roethlisberger does win another Super Bowl, the desire to go out on top could sway him toward retirement. Even if he doesn’t, it seems apparent that Roethlisberger will give retirement serious consideration every offseason until he actually does retire.
About Mike Batista
Mike is a longtime NFL analyst and Steelers fan. He currently writes for Steelers Addicts, and has also written for Bleacher Report.