PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Steelers ownership is speaking out about one of the most important offseasons in recent history after a quick exit in the playoffs earlier this month.
During an interview with KDKA's Bob Pompeani, Steelers owner Art Rooney II weighed in on a number of topics including adapting to COVID, Ben Roethlisberger's contract and the season overall.
After an 11-0 start, it looked like the Steelers were the best team in football, but it took on and off the field efforts of everyone in the organization to get to that point.
"I couldn't be happier and more appreciative of how our organization got us through this year," Rooney said.
Pittsburgh could have lost a few close games if it were not for late-game heroics. One of the glaring issues for the Steelers this year was the running game. They had the fewest rushing yards and yards per carry in the entire league.
"One of the things you need to have playing the [AFC] North is a consistent running game," said Rooney. "We haven't had that in the last couple years, so we got to get back to having that."
Ben Roethlisberger will be entering the final year of his contract with Pittsburgh. He is set to make over $41 million next season, but in order to re-sign some key players, Roethlisberger may have to restructure his deal.
"Ben has come in and said he wants to be back," said Rooney. "We're going to have those conversations and we're keeping the door open but we know the contract situation is going to have to change."
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season during his 14-year tenure as the Steelers head coach.
"I think bottom line is we want him to be our coach into the future," said Rooney. "He has one of the best track records in the league. Those playoff wins will come."
The defense was the shining spot for the Steelers. AFC Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, and edge rusher Bud Dupree were one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. The Steelers lost Dupree and second-year linebacker Devin Bush to torn ACLs.
"Obviously if we didn't suffer a couple key injuries on that defense, I think that would have made even a bigger difference for us," Rooney said.
It is hard for NFL owners to make decisions on contracts right now considering they do not know what the salary cap will be for next season. One of Rooney's priorities is to re-sign Watt.
"In terms of T.J. Watt, it's a good problem to have," Rooney said. "We're obviously going to do what we need to do to make sure he stays on the team into the future."
Dupree is set to be a very coveted free agent whose contract offers are thought to outprice what the Steelers would be willing to pay. However, much of the negotiations for the front office are dependent upon what the salary cap will be.
"We'd love to have him back," said Rooney. "We're not closing the door on anything."
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