LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - First-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger reached terms Tuesday on a six-year contract worth as much as $40 million with the
The deal, reached following lengthy talks that began Monday morning and extended into Tuesday morning, includes a Steelers club record $9,009,000
bonus that will be paid in signing and option bonuses of $600,000, $1,172,000 and $7,237,000 between now and March 1, 2005, the Associated Press
Roethlisberger's first-year salary will be the minimum of $230,000.
The talks finally progressed when the Steelers agreed to pay Roethlisberger a larger bonus than the $8 million that Houston gave cornerback Dunta
Robinson, who was drafted No. 10 overall, one spot ahead of Roethlisberger. The Steelers initially wanted to give the quarterback a bonus less than
what Robinson got but more than the $7.25 million that No. 12 pick Jonathan Vilma got from the New York Jets.
"We felt that quarterbacks deserve a premium, and the Steelers ultimately agreed," said Leigh Steinberg, Roethlisberger's agent.
Steinberg flew to Pittsburgh on Sunday night, after the talks stalled, and began face-to-face negotiations with Steelers negotiator Omar Khan and team
president Art Rooney II.
Roethlisberger, from Miami (Ohio), was the first quarterback drafted by the Steelers on the first round since Mark Malone in 1980. He is expected to
back up Tommy Maddox this season but move into the starting job as early as 2005. The deal leaves five NFL first-round draft picks unsigned but gives
the Steelers a full complement of quarterbacks in camp, which opened Friday. On Monday, coach Bill Cowher suggested the three quarterbacks in camp
might be getting too much work and he was thinking about bringing in a fourth quarterback to relieve the work load on Maddox, Charlie Batch and Brian
Roethlisberger, the third quarterback chosen in the April draft, was hopeful of signing before camp opened Friday, but still has missed only four
practices - one Sunday, two Monday and one Tuesday. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Roethlisberger was drafted behind Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, but may
have the strongest throwing arm of the group. He completed 854 of 1,304 passes for 10,829 yards at Miami of the Mid-American Conference, with 84
touchdown passes and 34 interceptions.
Roethlisberger plans to use some of his bonus money to aid the police and fire departments in his native Findlay, Ohio; to fund a scholarship at Miami
and to aid pee wee football in Pittsburgh.