PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert says the team has started preliminary discussions on a long term extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers say they are making it their top priority this offseason.
Colbert talked with members of the media today about the season including KDKA's Bob Pompeani.
Colbert told Pompeani, "Ben's a franchise quarterback that's getting better with age. I think he's going to be a better quarterback down the road."
He believes that putting Ben with weapons around him could help him follow the paths of other great quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady.
"You see it in a couple special players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Their game has not deteriorated. I think Ben is going to be a better quarterback down the road than he has to this point."
Colbert says that he believes Roethlisberger's performance will benefit from the cast around him. He cited Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant as reasons to be encourage from what is yet to come from his franchise quarterback.
There is no timetable on when a deal will get done.
Roethlisberger is coming of a record setting season in which he threw 32 touchdown passes in a Steelers 11-5 division winning season.
Colbert discussed offensive line depth saying the team is worried about their depth if they had to play today. He said the Steelers were will be looking at both free agency, and the draft in regards to the position.
Colbert is also concerned about the team's depth at tight end.
The team hasn't decided to tag linebacker Jason Worilds who is an unrestricted free agent.
Worilds signed the transition tag last year and Colbert says "Jason had a good year. He's still an ascending player."
He made just shy of $10 million in 2014. If the team elects to go that route gain, it would likely cost more, potentially in the 11 to 12 million dollar per year range.
As far as the cornerback position goes, Colbert thinks this year's draft doesn't have as many marquis players as last year.
Colbert says there has been no decision on the future of Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel, and James Harrison.
Only Polamalu and Keisel are under contract but it is possible that none of those four mentioned will be back.
The Steelers have never drafted a cornerback in the first found of the NFL draft under Colbert. They might this year, as they have not ruled that out.
The last time the Steelers drafted a corner in the first round was Chad Scott back in the 1990's
Colbert says free agency discussions will begin internally in the coming days as the team gets ready for the NFL combine next week in Indianapolis.
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