PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers plan on having quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back for an 18th season.

Team president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday saying he and Roethlisberger have met to figure out a way to ease the financial pressure caused by Roethlisberger’s contract. Roethlisberger, who turns 39 next month, carries a $41 million salary cap number for 2021 and is due a $15 million roster bonus on March 20, shortly after the new league year begins.

Rooney called the meeting with Roethlisberger “productive,” adding it allowed the two sides to “discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go.”

The Steelers went 12-4 and won the AFC North in 2020 but faded down the stretch. Pittsburgh lost five of its final six games following an 11-0 start, including a playoff loss to Cleveland in which Roethlisberger threw four interceptions.

The Steelers are facing a serious cap crunch and have already started to overhaul the coaching staff and the roster. Center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Vance McDonald, both close friends of Roethlisberger, have retired. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who also is close to Roethlisberger, was let go. More moves are on the way with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, outside linebacker Bud Dupree and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva among the team’s 19 pending free agents.

Still, Rooney expressed optimism the door for the Steelers to remain competitive during Roethlisberger’s long tenure remains open.

“We would like to have (Roethlisberger) back to help us win a championship,” Rooney said.

BUCCANEERS: Jason Pierre-Paul had a team-leading 9.5 sacks, two interceptions and 55 tackles during the regular season, then added two sacks, 13 tackles, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits in the playoffs and Super Bowl, but the 32-year-old outside linebacker did it while playing at “70 percent.” A nagging knee injury prevented him from practicing much.

On Wednesday, Pierre-Paul posted on Instagram that he was having surgery on his left knee. There were few details about Pierre-Paul’s surgery, but it likely is a cleanup procedure. He had something similar just before training camp last year.

Pierre-Paul has 30.5 sacks in the past three seasons since being traded to the Bucs despite missing six games in 2019 with a neck fracture.

RAIDERS: The Las Vegas Raiders released receiver Tyrell Williams following two injury-plagued seasons with the team.

Williams initially signed a four-year, $44.3 million deal as a free agent to join the Raiders in 2019. He struggled with injuries to his feet his first season and then missed all last season with a torn labrum.

Williams had 42 catches for 651 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games for the Raiders in 2019. He caught a TD pass in his first five games that season but was hampered down the stretch by injuries to both feet.

The 29-year-old Williams spent his first four seasons with the Chargers. He has 197 catches for 3,181 yards and 23 touchdowns in 69 career games.

Las Vegas drafted Henry Ruggs III in the first round last year and Bryan Edwards in the third round and are hoping they will carry the load at receiver in 2021.


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