Pittsburgh Steelers not ruling out return of Ben Roethlisberger in '22

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger's contract automatically voids at the end of the 2021 season, but Pittsburgh Steelers team owner and president Art Rooney II isn't ruling out a return by the quarterback in 2022.

"It's not written in stone that this is his last year," Rooney told a small group of reporters at Steelers camp Tuesday.

At the same time, though, Rooney acknowledged it could also very well be the quarterback's final season.

"We're aware this could be Ben's last year," he said. "We hope it's a great one. That's as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year we'll be making decisions on a quarterback, and we'll address it as the time comes up."

Roethlisberger, 39, signed a new contract with the Steelers in the spring, taking a $5 million pay cut and lowering his salary-cap hit by more than $15 million.

"It was a very unselfish move on his part," general manager Kevin Colbert said. "It made him available for 2021. Beyond that, none of us know. We'll just work with 2021 and see where it goes from there."

Roethlisberger himself also won't look beyond the 2021 season.

"I'm going to approach this like I do every season -- like it's my last," he said in June. "I think that's the approach you have to take. And you don't approach it that way because it could be your last, but you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last. Every game could be your last game. That just means I'm going out to give it everything I have.

"I have never looked towards the future. I've always looked at the right here and now, and that's what's important for me for this season is giving it everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys."