The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun discussions with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger regarding a new contract, it has emerged today.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert revealed the news that "preliminary negotiations" with the 33-year-old are underway.
In January, Pittsburgh president Art Rooney II labelled Roethlisberger's contract a priority and Steelers fans will undoubtedly be delighted to learn that the franchise is sticking to their word so early in the offseason.
Roethlisberger led the Steelers to an 11-5 record and first place in the AFC North but the team were well beaten by the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Playoff round - losing 30-17.
Colbert though had no hesitations in putting his faith in the man who has helped the franchise to two Super Bowl wins in the past. In fact he can only see Big Ben getting better moving forward.
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"I think Ben is going to be a better quarterback down the road than he has (been) to this point," explained the GM.
"He'll get better with good players around him."
With the likes of Antonio Brown - the NFL's leading wide receiver in yards last season - and running back Le'Veon Bell in the Steelers offensive arsenal, Roethlisberger certainly has the weapons to mount a serious challenge at the Super Bowl title next season.
The quarterback himself had a career year in 2014 in terms of yards (4,952), completions (408) and completion rate (67.1 percent) while matching his career high for touchdowns thrown with 32.
The Steelers are in a position to challenge over the next couple of seasons and they clearly want to get their leader tied down to a long term deal sooner rather than later.
Improving with age
Roethlisberger's current deal, worth $102 million over eight seasons when signed in 2008, enters its final year in 2015.
Tom Brady has just won the Super Bowl aged 37, proving that age can be an advantage in the quarterback position. With Big Ben having made clear in the recent past that he wishes to play out his NFL career with the Steelers you wouldn't want to bet against him following in his Patriots peer's footsteps and grabbing ring number three with Pittsburgh.
What do you think Steelers fans? How important is Big Ben to your chances of success, and how much should the team pay to keep him? Let us know in the comments section below...