Maurkice Pouncey not interested in retiring with Ben Roethlisberger ... yet

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said during the 2016 season that when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks away from football, he will, too.

What happened when Roethlisberger almost did retire during the offseason?

"I texted him and said, 'I already told the media I'm walking away when you are -- give me a couple more years,' " Pouncey said with a laugh. He made the comment Sunday at Roethlisberger's football camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Pouncey, 27, remains close friends with Roethlisberger, 35, who contemplated retirement this offseason but opted to return for a 14th year.

The Pro Bowl center maintains he's not ready to start over with a new quarterback. If retirement happens next year -- Roethlisberger hasn't committed to 2018 -- Pouncey will strongly consider joining him. However, he does leave the window slightly cracked for his own return.

"I don't know. It would be such a hard decision at that point," Pouncey said. "You get so used to playing with a great quarterback like that. For it to switch up, maybe try it out for one year of experience or two to see how things go, but man, it would be real hard."

Roethlisberger mentored Pouncey when the Steelers selected the center in the first round of the 2010 draft. Pouncey appreciates how his quarterback is honest with him about football and life matters.

And this offseason, Pouncey was a sounding board for Roethlisberger.

"Fourteen years is a long time, especially the type of way he's been playing football. It's tough on anybody," Pouncey said. "It will be hard for me to come back if he's not here. Whenever you're playing with that level of quarterback, to try to switch that up would be a different mojo for everybody on the team. ... I'm glad he came back. We need him to win a championship around here."

Pouncey plans to do his part to make that happen. Asked about his plans from now until training camp, the Pro Bowl center won't be vacationing. He plans to pull two-a-day workouts, spending many summer days at team headquarters.

"Football's back," Pouncey said. "There's no time to really take time off and enjoy yourself. It's time to get it."