Pittsburgh Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward said he's spoken to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about the veteran's upcoming offseason plans but is choosing to keep their conversation private amid reports that Roethlisberger was mulling retirement.
“Said a little bit, but that’s between me and him. I’m just happy the way he played tonight. To pick up a critical W for us, our QB came through,” Heyward told reporters via USA TODAY.
On Saturday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Roethlisberger told former teammates and some within the organization that he expects the 2021 season to be his last with the franchise, according to sources.
Roethlisberger hasn't addressed his future publicly and reportedly doesn't want to make the focus of the Steelers' final games about himself, rather the team's attempt to make a playoff push, but sources told Schefter that the 39-year-old is operating as if he's in the final few games of his career.
Roethlisberger's current contract is set to expire this offseason, one year after the quarterback agreed to a restructured deal in order to allow the Steelers to free up cap space ahead of free agency.
The 18-year veteran is the only active quarterback remaining from the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, having watched draft classmates Eli Manning and Philip Rivers end their respective careers in each of the last two offseasons.
Roethlisberger has told many that he wouldn't consider playing for a franchise -- having spent his entire career with the Steelers -- and a source told Schefter it's "highly unlikely" that he'd end up on another team next season.
Roethlisberger threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 31 passing during the Steelers' 20-19 win against the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The two-time Super Bowl champion is the Steelers' franchise leader in career passing yards (63,106), touchdowns (412), and wins by a starting quarterback (162).