Steelers Nation was desperate for an answer, and Ben Roethlisberger provided it today, via his official Twitter account:
"Informed the team I am looking forward to my 14th season. Steelers Nation will get my absolute best! — Ben."
A couple of days after the Steelers' 2016 season ended with a loss in the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger had said this during his weekly radio segment on 93.7 The Fan: "I'm going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that, and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there's going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that's the prudent and smart thing to do every year."
That statement, while understandable and even deserving to be described as normal for a 13-year NFL veteran who turned 35 in early March, still sent shock waves through legions of Steelers fans who have become accustomed to their favorite team being quarterbacked by one of the top players at his position in the NFL.
And despite his age and the number of seasons of professional football on his body, Roethlisberger remains one of the top players at his position in the NFL, and it wouldn't be difficult to put forth the argument that he's playing some of the best football of his career right now.
Here are just a few of the milestones Roethlisberger reached during a 2016 season that had the Steelers finish 11-5, win the AFC North, and win twice in the playoffs to advance to the AFC Championship Game:
Roethlisberger became the first player in NFL history to complete at least 500 passes to three different teammates – Heath Miller, Hines Ward, and Antonio Brown; he became the third active NFL quarterback to reach 50 road wins, by joining Tom Brady and Drew Brees; his nine 400-yard passing games are the fourth most in NFL history; he rose to ninth in league history in touchdown passes with 301; to 10th in league history in passing yards with 46,814; to 11th in league history in completions with 3,804; and he became the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least five touchdown passes in five different games.
One of the goals of every professional athlete is to improve from one season to the next, and in 2016, Roethlisberger's 29 touchdown passes represented the third-highest single-season total of his career. His record as the Steelers' starter improved to 123-60 (.672) and his record in the playoffs to 13-7 (.650).
"As an organization, we have been hopeful that Ben would return this year," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Ben and I have had many conversations, and I understood at this point in his career he is going to have to think about his long-term future. There is no question Ben wants to win championships for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and we know he will do everything possible to lead our entire team to achieving that goal."
Among all of his other accomplishments, Roethlisberger is one of 11 quarterbacks in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowls, and only three of those 11 are active today – Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Tom Brady.