Let's make a deal

When asked about Tony Romo's contract extension in the days after the Dallas quarterback signed his new deal, all Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said was, "Interesting."

Roethlisberger wasn't saying much about Romo's contract, but the sly smile and look he gave me when I asked him about it said it all: He knows he's about to take the step from being rich to very rich.

For all the hype surrounding Romo, Roethlisberger has several things that Romo does not, namely a Super Bowl ring and several playoff victories. Those are some pretty important credentials that Roethlisberger has and Romo does not.

So when the Steelers start negotiations with Roethlisberger, it's very likely the two parties will start with Romo's six-year, $67.5-million deal and work up from there, but not too far.

That deal included $30 million in guaranteed money, something the Steelers have been slow to include in their contracts, but something that is now a part of doing business in today's NFL.

There are those who think Roethlisberger may be inclined to give the Steelers the home-town discount since he's also come forward with a laundry list of things he'd like to see this offseason – namely a tall wide receiver and the retention of guard Alan Faneca.

But the hometown bargains that have been cited really aren't.

Tom Brady's contract – the one most often talked about – was a six-year, $60-million contract with New England that included a $14.5-million signing bonus.

That deal was only considered a bargain because Peyton Manning had just signed a nine-year, $99.2-million deal – with a $35.4-million bonus – with Indianapolis, and Atlanta had gone crazy and given Michael Vick a 10-year, $130-million deal with a $37-million signing bonus.

In the grand scheme of things, Manning's deal now seems like a bargain price, while Vick's seems as crazy now as it did then.

It would seem the going rate for a star-caliber NFL quarterback starts at a little over $10 million per year on average and goes from there.

For Roethlisberger, that will mean a six-year, $70-million contract extension that includes $25 or so million in guaranteed money.

It will be a big check to write for the Steelers, but it's one they've got to get done.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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