NFL Futures: Will Ben Roethlisberger Retire After This Season?

by Kevin Roberts
on October 12, 2017

Before the 2017 NFL season even began there were rumors swirling that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was considering retirement.

The 35-year old quarterback wasn’t initially taken seriously, even though he commented ahead of the summer that he’d have to think about things going into the new year.

Retirement actually shouldn’t have been a huge shock when it comes to Roethlisberger, either. The Steelers quarterback is technically past his prime and has dealt with a litany of injuries over the last several years.

After a sluggish 3-2 start that has seen Big Ben throw just six touchdowns up against seven interceptions, it’s worth wondering if all of that retirement talk was really just the media or if there was some substance to it.

A poor week five showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars forced even Roethlisberger to come to grips with his rough start, with the star passer quoted as suggesting he may “not have it” anymore:

Roethlisberger would later go back on his comments, suggesting he was merely upset and that he still believes he’s among the NFL’s best passers. Still, with the retirement talk this past summer and Roethlisberger’s play apparently in decline, the floodgates have been opened and many are speculating this could be his final season.

Retirement Talk

Most didn’t take the initial Ben Roethlisberger retirement rumors seriously. He’s in a comfortable spot with a good team that has a loaded offense. The Steelers made it to the AFC title game a year ago and by all accounts had a team ready to again contend for a Super Bowl run.

Ahead of the season, Pittsburgh had some of the best Super Bowl 52 odds you could find on NFL betting sites. At 3-2, they’re still the best team in a battered AFC North division and appear to be a viable Super Bowl sleeper with +1200 odds at Bovada to win it all.

The question, of course, is if any of that will be enough.

Bovada asks precisely that in a special wager for Roethlisberger’s future, where we get to decide whether his final 2017 down will be his last.

Specifically, we can bet on whether or not Roethlisberger will be officially retired before week one of the 2018 NFL season. Here are the odds:

  • Yes +700
  • No -1600

The Steelers got to within one win of last year’s Super Bowl and coming that close didn’t stop Big Ben from at least thinking about a future that didn’t include playing football.

Should the Steelers falter from here and Roethlisberger’s poor play be a reason for it, the quarterback could opt to assume he’s truly lost the ability to make a difference.

Roethlisberger is obviously not as nimble as he once was. In 2017 specifically, he’s not converting the deep throws he used to make in his sleep and he’s not reading defenses well enough. That’s led to less explosive plays, tunnel vision and costly turnovers.

It’s also very possible the Roethlisberger retirement talk was overblown last summer and it’s still not as big of a deal as the media wants it to be. We can take Roethlisberger’s sentiments for what they appear to be, or we can note the clear coincidence of poor play aligning with frustration.

Will Big Ben Retire?

It’s rare that we see any NFL player be so candid about their performance that they suggest openly they aren’t the same player they need to be to win games.

Big Ben did that, but whether it was genuine or just frustration remains unclear.

What we do know is that Roethlisberger has taken a beating throughout his career. He should be playing high-level football at age 35, but he’s playing more like he’s 38 and closer to the end of his career than Steelers fans may want to admit.

It’s still entirely possible it all clicks and Roethlisberger gets back to the guy he was a year ago. However, a road date with an undefeated Chiefs team in week six doesn’t really allow for that to happen. Not on paper, at least.

The Steelers remain a viable Super Bowl sleeper and as long as that’s the case, it’s going to be tough to fully write off Roethlisberger.

However, the end is drawing near for this veteran passer and the retirement rumors, his current play and obvious lack of confidence point to him hanging up his cleats sooner, rather than later.

Does that mean we bite on this wager? The value is certainly there. Ultimately, I’d simply pass on this bet or at least keep my wager on the small side. Betting on the “no” side at -1600 is a waste of time. The +700 does provide nice value and we are absolutely trending toward that, albeit at a slow and unknown pace.

If we’re making this bet, I’d roll with the upside and toss some small cash on Big Ben being done after this year. However, given how some players continue playing well past their time of effectiveness due to money and loyalty, it’s still very possible Roethlisberger trudges on for another 1-2 seasons. That’s one reason why we’d just avoid this wager for now.

The biggest reason why is his disastrous week five performance (and 2017 season as a whole) wasn’t all bad. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit broke down Big Ben’s five interceptions in his last game and wondered if the media was blowing his poor performance (and comments) out of proportion.

The answer, to us, is a resounding yes to both. Big Ben has thought about his life after football and at a battered 35, those days are coming sooner than some may hope. I’m not sure we can heavily bank on them coming immediately after this season, however.

Considering Vegas is pretty hard on the “no” side, we probably should be, as well. Roethlisberger is a little down in the dumps right now, but he’s too talented, too experienced and too competitive to stay there for much longer.

If not in week six, Roethlisberger will eventually show us again at some point this year why he’s still playing. That may not mean the Steelers go all the way or he competes for an MVP trophy, but he still has enough of the skill-set that made him great.

Anything can happen between now and the end of the season, but for now, we wouldn’t take Roethlisberger’s comments to heart.

Pick: No -1600
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