Will Big Ben's deal affect talks with Rivers?

Ben Roethlisberger has a $102 million contract extension. Eli Manning has a Super Bowl ring. Philip Rivers may not be able to get one without the other. How will Eli Manning's big season and Roethlisberger's big deal affect the Chargers' contract negotiations with Rivers? Chargers expert Michael Lombardo breaks it down.

The Pittsburgh Steelers revealed today that Ben Roethlisberger has agreed to an eight-year, $102 million contract that includes $36 million in guarantees. Roethlisberger becomes only the seventh player in NFL history to sign a $100 million contract.

The announcement no doubt caught the attention of Jimmy Sexton, the agent for Philip Rivers. Rivers has only two years left on his rookie contract with base salaries of $5.75 million and $6.5 million and is in the preliminary stages of negotiating a new contract with the Chargers.

"We're working on some extensions. We'll let you know if anything happens," A.J. Smith said.

Rivers and Roethlisberger were both selected early in the 2004 draft. Since that time, Roethlisberger has a higher passer rating (92.5 to 86.6) and more yards per game (208.4 to 185.8). However, Rivers boasts the higher winning percentage (78 percent to 72 percent).

It is reasonable to expect that Rivers will demand an annual salary comparable to Roethlisberger's. Both have been similarly productive and have established themselves as clubhouse leaders and franchise signal callers. The biggest difference is that Roethlisberger owns a Super Bowl ring.

Eli Manning, who was drafted in the same class as Rivers and Roethlisberger, earned his Super Bowl ring last season, solidifying his status as a top-tier quarterback. Of the "big three" quarterbacks from the class of 2004, only Rivers has yet to win the Big Game.


QB Philip Rivers
Doug Pensinger/Getty

"Three marquee guys. I said I would not be the least bit surprised if great things happened in the careers of these three guys if they get with the right team," Smith said. "You've got Ben with a Super Bowl ring, you've got Eli with a Super Bowl ring, and Philip Rivers with no ring. Two out of three.

"I'm hoping that when I said ‘marquee' and ‘special things are going to happen,' I hope four or five years from now that our guy is not the only one. I'm rooting for him."

Four or five years from now, Rivers will be working under a new contract that has yet to materialize. As if Roethlisberger's nine-figure deal didn't make negotiations complicated enough, the Chargers will also have to deal with five other core players who will be free agents after the 2009 season: Shawne Merriman, Marcus McNeill, Luis Castillo, Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson.

The Chargers are feeling the pressure to lock up their franchise quarterback in a pricey market, and to win a Super Bowl before a mass exodus of talent occurs in the not-too-distant future. Rivers is feeling the pressure to win a ring like his classmates, and to snag the security of a long-term extension before another debilitating knee injury makes the issue moot.

Will all of the building pressure cause an already combustible situation to explode? Chargers fans will have to wait for a break in the negotiations before any resolution is found.

In the meanwhile, Bolts backers can take solace in knowing that things could be worse…the Chargers could have drafted J.P. Losman.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.


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