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Philip Rivers’ retirement is reminder that clock has expired for Big Ben, and Steelers need to help him accept it

Philip Rivers retired Wednesday, and he certainly was not the primary. Eli Manning, the preliminary quarterback chosen among the many “Class of 2004,” performed his closing recreation in 2019. Tight finish Kellen Winslow, whom the Cleveland Browns picked relatively than choose a QB, has been gone from the league since 2013. Deal with Shawn Andrews, in keeping with legend the participant Steelers coach Invoice Cowher argued to pick that yr, has been absent from the league for greater than a decade. Ben Roethlisberger outlasted all of them.

So he has that, and two Tremendous Bowl rings, and 6 Professional Bowl appearances, and extra fourth-quarter comebacks than all however three different males, extra QB victories than all however 4 others, extra playoff wins than all however 5 others, extra passing yards than all however six others and extra landing passes than all however seven others.

This needs to be sufficient. It’s time.

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I cannot insult Roethlisberger by trotting out the Chuck Noll cliché that Large Ben must get on with this life’s work. As a result of this has been his life’s work. To counsel in any other case is to devalue the sacrifice and achievements of anybody who has been an expert athlete this lengthy, this efficiently. He has earned 1 / 4 of a billion {dollars} taking part in this recreation. He can afford no matter retirement exercise he needs, whether or not that’s working or not.

It might be finest if he realizes this, that these moments on the bench adjoining to middle Maurkice Pouncey after the Steelers’ playoffs loss to the Browns may need been heartbreaking, however they served as a poignant conclusion to a profession that contained a lot extra exhilaration. If Roethlisberger feels compelled to put in writing a distinct ending, the Steelers should persuade him, nonetheless troublesome it might be, that he has performed his closing recreation in black and gold.

The Roethlisberger of 2020 will not be value a $41.25 million chunk of a wage cap that’s projected to drop as little as $180 million due to income points associated to the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither is it worthwhile to concoct a nominal extension that would scale back that cap hit subsequent season however lengthen compliance points into the long run.

If he retires now, or “retires,” the Steelers would retrieve $19 million of cap house that could possibly be spent on another space of want, specifically retention of gifted linebacker Bud Dupree both on a second franchise tag or a long-term deal.

With Dupree on the correct aspect of the protection and celebrity T.J. Watt on the left, the Steelers managed to steer the league in sacks and conjure an 8-8 season with not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Mason Rudolph and undrafted free agent Duck Hodges taking part in quarterback in 2019. With the Dupree-Watt tandem nonetheless in place this previous autumn, the Steelers received 11 consecutive video games and once more have been the league’s most harmful protection. With Dupree injured and absent for the ultimate 5 regular-season video games and the playoffs, they went 1-5.

Roethlisberger performed in all however one of many video games Dupree missed. Not solely did he fail to make a distinction within the majority, he was the obvious drawback. Introduced a possibility to mount one other game-winning drive in opposition to Washington, he checked all the way down to a nugatory brief route and noticed his throw deflected and intercepted. Towards the Payments, he threw a pick-6 late within the first half that inverted a recreation during which the Steelers D had stifled Josh Allen and his teammates for half-hour. In a Monday evening recreation in opposition to the Bengals, Roethlisberger fumbled to arrange an opposing area purpose, missed an open deep receiver in favor of a too-short third-down cross to double-covered JuJu Smith-Schuster that led to a punishing hit and fumble, and later he threw an interception — all of which gifted the Bengals with a 17-0 first-half lead. Within the playoff recreation, he threw two interceptions that preceded Cleveland scores because the Browns constructed a 28-0 lead {that a} livid comeback couldn’t overcome.

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Having missed a whole season with an damage, Roethlisberger appeared to worth his availability above all. It might be obscene to counsel that concern of discomfort motivated his rush to ship the ball, as a result of he continued his career-long aversion to abandoning a play by throwing away the ball. Concern of inactivity, although — of extra time watching in road garments as his teammates continued on with out him — appeared to drive a lot of what transpired over the ultimate two months of the season.

And when there was no future with which to be involved, solely the sport that completely needed to be received within the second, it was too late to change into one thing else.

As it’s now. Roethlisberger was the best quarterback in Steelers historical past, even above Terry Bradshaw, who was in command because the Steelers received the primary of their six Lombardi Trophies. However using the previous tense will not be unintended. That participant is not any extra. To permit him to devour 23 % of subsequent season’s wage cap is to have interaction in a wishful fantasy.

Rivers performed the Payments, on the highway, and fell solely by three factors whereas topping 300 yards and never turning over the ball as soon as. The Payments but might attain the Tremendous Bowl. Roethlisberger performed the Browns, at residence, and threw 4 picks to a crew that intercepted solely 11 in 16 video games and was gone from the postseason every week later.

Rivers was sensible about his future. If Roethlisberger will not be, the Steelers should acknowledge that, generally, actuality bites.

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