The Pittsburgh Steelers have reiterated repeatedly during an eventful offseason that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains the team’s unquestioned leader. They have handed him a new deal to prove it.
The Steelers and the two-time Super Bowl winner agreed to terms on a contract extension Wednesday that will keep Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season. Roethlisberger had been set to enter the final year of a contract he signed in 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Roethlisberger figures to get a significant pay bump over the $12 million he was due (with a $23 million cap hit) in 2019.
“It has always been a goal to play my entire career in Pittsburgh,” Roethlisberger said in a statement. “This is home for me and my family, and we love this city. I am as excited to be a Steeler in Year 16 as I was when they drafted me. They will get my absolute best.”
The deal gives Pittsburgh some stability going forward after the high-profile departures of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. Brown pouted his way into a trade with the Oakland Raiders in March and Bell signed with the Jets as a free agent after sitting out all of 2018 when he opted not to sign his franchise tender.
Roethlisberger, who turned 36 last month, is coming off the finest statistical season of his 15-year career. His 5,129 yards passing led the NFL and his 34 touchdown passes broke his own franchise mark. Yet his once-solid relationship with Brown appeared to deteriorate during a late slide that culminated in a 9-6-1 finish, a swoon that caused the Steelers to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Cowboys pick up Elliott’s option
Dallas picked up the fifth-year option on Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie contract, keeping the star running back with the club at least through 2020.
The two-time NFL rushing champion is set to make $3.9 million this season and $9.1 million in his fifth year unless Elliott and the team agree on a contract before then. The Cowboys have said they want a long-term deal with the fourth overall pick from the 2016 draft.
Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott led Dallas to the NFC East title during their sensational rookie seasons in 2016, when the former Ohio State star rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Cowboys missed the playoffs in 2017 when Elliott was suspended for six games over domestic violence allegations but still led the league in yards per game.
Elliott had 1,434 yards for his second rushing title in three years last season as Dallas won the division again, beat Seattle in a wild-card game and lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round. The 23-year-old also set a club record for a running back with 77 catches (567 yards receiving).
Ravens extend Tucker, Yanda
With an eye toward the future, Baltimore Ravens first-year general manager Eric DeCosta provided contract extensions to kicker Justin Tucker and guard Marshal Yanda.
Tucker signed a four-year extension through 2023, and Yanda added a year to a contract set to expire after the upcoming season. DeCosta called Tucker, the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, and Yanda, a seven-time Pro Bowler, “two of our best players.”
Since breaking into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Tucker has made 90.1 percent of his field goal tries — the highest career percentage in NFL history. He made 35 of 39 tries in 2018, missing only from 53 and 65 yards and getting two blocked.
Hill not charged
A county prosecutor declined to charge Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill with a crime Wednesday in a domestic incident that involved his fiance and their 3-year-old child.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe acknowledged that “we believe a crime has occurred, however, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.”
Police were called to the Kansas City-area home of Hill and Crystal Espinal twice last month, and investigators determined their child had been injured. Howe said the child was placed in protective care and that there will be “a continued involvement by state officials.”
“I can’t talk about the child, its placement or what is going on in that matter. What I can say is the child is safe,” Howe said. “We want to hold people accountable that hurt children, but there are other mechanisms for us to protect that child other than filing criminal charges.”
The Chiefs did not respond to a request for comment.
Hill is a two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with a history of domestic violence issues, including a case in which he was accused of punching Espinal while he was at Oklahoma State. Hill was kicked off the football team there and landed at a small school in Alabama, where he became a fifth-round pick of the Chiefs.
The Chiefs or the NFL could still punish Hill, and the receiver’s long-term future in Kansas City remains in question. Hill is entering the final year of his rookie contract and appeared poised to land a massive deal, but the Chiefs could be reluctant to give him that deal now.
Manchester City beats Manchester United
Manchester City kept the destination of the Premier League title in its own hands by beating Manchester United, 2-0, Wednesday to climb back above Liverpool with three games left this season.
United slumped to a seventh loss in its last nine matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanks to strikes in a 12-minute span from Bernardo Silva and substitute Leroy Sane, with United goalkeeper David De Gea partially at fault for both goals.
City moved one point ahead of Liverpool and will become the first team to retain the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009 if the team wins its last three games — against Burnley, Leicester and Brighton. Liverpool’s last three games are against Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers.