Roethlisberger agrees to $102 million deal

Ben Roethlisberger became not only the highest-paid Steelers player ever, he's now among the highest-paid players in the NFL, and arguments can be made that he's No. 1.

Roethlisberger today signed a contract that will pay him $102 million over eight seasons. It includes so-called "guaranteed money" of slightly more than $36 million and a $25 million signing bonus.

"This is about being a Pittsburgh Steeler for as long as I can be,'' Roethlisberger said. "I don't want to go anywhere.''

Said Dan Rooney, the Steelers chairman, "He's a Steeler, he'll always be a Steeler.''

Roethlisberger's agents, Ryan and Bruce Tollner, arrived in Pittsburgh Sunday to wrap up a deal they've been negotiating for nearly a month.

It was important for the Steelers to get the deal finished before a signing bonus of $2.95 million was due Roethlisberger in a few days. By doing the contract earlier, they could put that money into the signing bonus, which is spread over the life of the contract.

The Steelers had only $2.4 million left under their cap, so it's possible they must rescind the nearly $7 million tender given to tackle Max Starks as their transition player.

The signing apparently did not hurt their small-time hunt in free agency. They are entertaining their first unrestricted free agent today at their facility, running back Mewelde Moore of the Minnesota Vikings. Moore, 25, is 5-11, 209 and has played on a limited basis the past two seasons in Minnesota.

And tomorrow, Eugene Wilson, a former starting free safety for the New England Patriots, will visit.

More in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.

Ed Bouchette can be reached at . First Published March 3, 2008 3:15 PM


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