Bruce Gradkowski gave his thoughts on the Steelers re-signing Ben Roethlisberger this offseason.
The final numbers haven’t been revealed just yet, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger willingly reduced his pay to $14 million from $19 million in this final year of his contract. This now will free up the team’s salary cap hit by more than $15 million this season.
Everyone knew that Roethlisberger’s $41.25 million deal was not worth the headache this offseason. However, with a new restructured base, the Steelers can hopefully add several players to remain a contender in 2021.
Roethlisberger’s former backup, Bruce Gradkowski, agrees.
Gradkowski spoke on SiriusXM Radio this past week on the new deal, stating that while it’s great Roethlisberger will likely call it a career with one team, it also gives the Steelers breathing room.
“I was concerned of what they had behind Ben. Like, if Ben’s not back, nothing against Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph, but I think the Steelers are better off with Ben right now at the helm,” Gradkowski said.
The Steelers still need to improve
There’s plenty that could hold Pittsburgh back in 2021. The offense will be losing several pieces to the line and run game. JuJu Smith-Schuster could be playing on a different team. All that will impact Roethlisberger, not to mention playing in the same division as two Super Bowl contenders in Baltimore and Cleveland.
“I think offensively, they have to do different things,” Gradkowski acknowledged. “They have to continue to get better and do different things. Ben led with the most pass attempts from the shotgun. He led with the most pass attempts under 10 yards, and so there’s reasons for all that.”
Taking pressure off of Roethlisberger will be key. New OC Matt Canada has stated multiple times in the past that he intends to run the ball more in 2021. Does that mean James Conner will return?
Pittsburgh started the season off 11-0. It was in large part due to their arsenal of weapons and top defense leading the charge.
That will need to be the case again in 2021, but at least Gradkowski can see a light at the end of the tunnel with Roethlisberger calling the shots.