Wow, what a finish
The week ended with a bang for the Steelers when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed a new five-year contract, keeping him in the black and gold through the 2019 season.
"It's kind of hard to contain my smile when I'm excited to be at a place like this, to be home, and to be able to be here for my whole career," said Roethlisberger. "I know most of you have heard me say for a long time that this is where I have always wanted to be and where I have wanted to spend my whole career.
"This organization has given me an opportunity to do that. I just feel very blessed to have the opportunity to play for such a great franchise, with great coaches, great teammates, and the best fans in the world. I'm extremely happy that we got a deal done. It's incredibly fair for both sides. We are just excited to move forward and get some more Lombardi trophies in that room next door."
Roethlisberger holds numerous franchise records for his regular-season performances, including passing touchdowns (251), passing yards (39,057), passer rating (93.9), completions (3,157), pass attempts (4,954), completion percentage (63.7), yards per attempt (7.9), 300-yard passing games (37) and 3,000-yard passing seasons (9).
Ben Roethlisberger signs a 5 year contract extension with the Steelers.
Roethlisberger is coming off one of the best seasons in his career, setting the Steelers' single season passing records for completions (408), attempts (608), completion percentage (67.1), passing yards (4,952), 300-yard games (9) and games with a passer rating of 100.0 or more (10). And what does he want to do moving forward?
"Just keep trying to get better," said Roethlisberger. "I think the first key to that is staying healthy and staying on the football field. I've been blessed to be able to do that the last two years. Last year was statistically one of my best and that's because we've got a great group of guys around me – great offensive line and obviously a great tight end and running back and receiver.
"I think if we continue to build on that the sky is the limit for this team."
Off and running
Roethlisberger wasn't the only one making news on Friday. The Steelers signed veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, the Carolina Panthers all-time leader in rushing attempts (1,432), rushing yards (6,846), rushing touchdowns (46) and 100-yard rushing games (18).
Photos of running back DeAngelo Williams. Photos by AP.
Williams has been with the Panthers since they drafted him in 2006, but is looking forward to his new opportunity and helping the Steelers continue to grow on the season they had in 2014.
"I want to help build on it, to help be productive," said Williams. "And not only just be productive, but to make it to the Super Bowl and win it. I haven't played in any Super Bowls and to know this is a Super Bowl-contending team and to help them make that offense even better, it excites me and I hope that it excites Steelers Nation. I think this was a great fit for me and the Steelers. I know we're going to do great things here."
Another busy day
Before free agency even began it was busy at the team's practice facility on the South Side as the Steelers agreed to terms with two players who were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Linebacker Arthur Moats agreed to a three-year contract, keeping him with the team he came to love over the last year.
"Once you come in this organization and you are around the guys, you build lifelong relationships and that is what you want," said Moats. "I haven't felt like that since college. For me to have that here is good and I am so happy I get to continue that.
"The family feel of it, from the top of the organization to everyone within the organization. It's a brotherhood among the guys and these are the guys you want to go to war with.
"Everything was able to get worked out this morning and I'm thrilled I am staying."
Also staying on board is tight end Matt Spaeth, who agreed to terms on a two-year contract. Spaeth was originally drafted by the Steelers in the third-round in 2007, but left via free agency after the 2010 season. He spent two seasons with the Bears, but returned to Pittsburgh after he was released in 2013.
"I think of Pittsburgh as home now," said Spaeth. "This organization is the best in the world, and I am just happy to be back."
In addition, the Steelers made tender offers to their three restricted free agents, cornerback Antwon Blake, safety Robert Golden and fullback/tight end Will Johnson.
That wasn't the end of the news as the team also released defensive end Brett Keisel. Keisel, a former seventh-round draft pick, played 13 seasons with the team, seeing action in 156 games with 114 starts. He also played in 16 postseason games, starting eight of them.
"We have informed Brett Keisel that we plan to release him today," said Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert. "We have had conversations with Brett over the past couple of weeks during which we communicated our intentions to him. Brett has played a major role in our success during his 13 years in Pittsburgh. We appreciate his efforts and we are grateful for what he helped us accomplish, including two Super Bowl Championships. We will always consider him an all-time Pittsburgh Steeler."
A surprise announcement
It's not often an NFL player retires in what could be considered the prime of his career, but linebacker Jason Worilds did just that this past week.
The Steelers issued a statement in regards to their former second-round draft pick, who was an unrestricted free agent.
"We respect his decision to retire and thank him for his five years in Pittsburgh. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Worilds, who was garnering interest from teams in the free agent market, brought his career to an end via a statement released by his player representative.
"I appreciate all of the interest from the organizations that have reached out to us the past few days," Worilds statement read. "With that being said, after much thought and consideration I have chosen to step away from football as I have opted to pursue other interests.
"I am especially grateful of the opportunity to play before some of the greatest fans in football today. Despite any concern and speculation that may ensue, I appreciate those that are respectful of my decision."
Cornerback Brice McCain said after the season that he really enjoyed played for the Steelers, and the atmosphere in the locker room and throughout the organization.
But when the free agency bell rang, McCain headed elsewhere, signing a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.