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.
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