The 2021-22 season is most likely Ben Roethlisberger’s last season on the field, even though he has yet to make it official.
The 39-year-old Steelers quarterback has spent his entire 18-year career in Pittsburgh. This is the longest tenure one player has stayed with one team in NFL history. Roethlisberger was drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft as the 11th overall pick. Since then, he’s won two Super Bowls with the Steelers. There have been rumors for a few years of Roethlisberger’s retirement, but the 2021-22 season might actually be it.
While Roethlisberger has still not officially confirmed his retirement, he’s continued to hint at it this season. Ahead of the Steelers’ Week 17 matchup against the Browns, which is speculated to be Roethlisberger’s last game in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger said that “this could be it.”
This Monday could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field. He could tie Brett Favre for the 3rd-most wins at a single venue including postseason (98). Only Tom Brady (135) and John Elway (104) have more than them. pic.twitter.com/EzshuXKWV6
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2021
But, there are other reasons than just age that has impacted Roethlisberger’s likely retirement, including this being one of his worst seasons statistically in his career.
Is Ben Roethlisberger retiring after the 2021 season?
Roethlisberger has still not made a definite decision about his retirement, but, as he said, all “signs are pointing that way.” Here’s his full quote about retirement from Thursday, Dec. 30.
“I don’t ever speak in definites or guarantees, that’s just not what I’ve ever done, or who I am, but looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing to — this could be it. Regular season, that is. I know that we still have, a chance potentially to get a playoff game there if things fall our way and take care of business, things have to happen,” Roethlisberger said, via ESPN. “But in the grand scheme of things, in terms of regular season, signs are pointing that way — that this could be it.”
Ben Roethlisberger won’t speak in definites, but he says “all signs” are pointing that “this could be it” his last game — at least regular season — at Heinz Field. pic.twitter.com/9jlhR99Kty
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 30, 2021
The Steelers’ Week 17 matchup against the Browns at Heinz Field will most likely be Roethlisberger’s last home game in his career. The Steelers will play the Ravens in Week 18, which could potentially be his last NFL game if the Steelers don’t make the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger 2021 season stats
*Roethlisberger’s statistics reflect through 16 weeks and 14 game starts this season.
The 2021-22 season is actually one of Roethlisberger’s worst seasons statisically. In his 18-year career, he’s only had one other losing record (not including his 0-2 2019 season after he sat out due to a right elbow injury), which was his 7-8 record in 2006. In 2013, the Steelers finished with an 8-8 record. If the Steelers lose one or two more games, this would only be Roethlisberger’s second losing season. If they lose both games, it will be his worst record at 7-9-1. Roethlisberger has only missed the playoffs six times, and this season could potentially be his seventh. The Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since 2016, though.
In terms of statistics, Roethlisberger has thrown for 3,373 yards this season ranking 13th in the NFL so far. He threw about 100 yards less than that in 2012 but only started in 13 games. On top of that, he’s only thrown for 20 touchdowns this season, which is his lowest since 2010 when he only threw 17.
One positive is Roethlisberger has only thrown eight interceptions this season, marking only the fifth time he’s thrown under 10. However, there are still two games left in the season.
One of Roethlisberger’s biggest weaknesses this season is being sacked. So far, he’s been sacked 35 times, which makes him tied for the fifth most in the NFL this season so far. Between the years 2006-2011, Roethlisberger was being sacked consistently around 40-50 times. But, in the last decade, that number has increasingly gone down. Last season, Roethlisberger was only sacked 13 times, for example. Additionally, Roethlisberger has caused 10 fumbles, which is only the second time he’s had double digit fumbles in a season.
Surprisingly, Roethlisberger has the quickest release time in the NFL this season with an average of 2.37 seconds.
Ben Roethlisberger contract
The timing of Roethlisberger’s contract is another reason why this season is probably his last. The 2021-22 season was the last year on his contract after he renegotiated a deal before the 2021 season. His contract is a one-year, $14 million pact, which was a pay decrease for him. He took the cut so the Steelers could have some room to keep players like JuJu Smith-Schuster on the team.
On top of that, Roethlisberger deferred some of his money to count against the 2022 salary cap creating a “void year.” Roethlisberger’s cap hits at $10.34 million during the void year.