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Ben Roethlisberger signs with Pittsburgh Steelers for 2021 NFL season

Ben Roethlisberger is officially back with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2021 NFL season, the team revealed Thursday.

The Steelers did not disclose the terms, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Roethlisberger willingly reduced his pay to $14 million from $19 million in this final year of his contract and spread the cash payment through 2022. The move lowers the team’s salary-cap hit by more than $15 million.

“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” Roethlisberger said in a statement issued by the team. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

Roethlisberger was previously under contract for the 2021 season, although the team made it clear he could not return with the $41.2 million cap hit.

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“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same — to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

Roethlisberger, who turned 39 earlier this week, threw 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season, his first after major elbow surgery following a season-ending injury in Week 2 of the 2019 season.

He attempted 608 passes in the 2020 season — tied for the second-highest total of his career — and maintained throughout the season that his elbow felt fine and wasn’t affecting his on-field performance, though dismal halves versus the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and even the Cleveland Browns suggested otherwise at times.

Still, Roethlisberger showed an ability to stretch the field late in the season, upping his average air yards per attempt from 6 yards to 8 yards for the final three games.

After the season, Roethlisberger stated he hoped the Steelers would want him back if he opted to return rather than retiring.

Team president Art Rooney II and Colbert made it clear in offseason interviews and statements that Roethlisberger could not come back on his current contract but that they wanted the quarterback to return for one more season — as long as they could free up money to field a competitive team around the quarterback.

With Roethlisberger’s deal, the Steelers are close to cap-compliant for the beginning of the new league year on March 17. Although Roethlisberger’s restructured contract reduces his cap hit, the team still faces a difficult task in re-signing any of its 19 unrestricted free agents, including receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and linebacker Bud Dupree.

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NBA to pay players full salaries due April 1

The NBA and its players are in a very difficult financial situation. With matches suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, teams have no revenue incoming.

Players have guaranteed contracts, though, so the two sides have to sort out how to approach this crisis in a manner satisfactory to all involved. While no long-term plan has been made, the NBA took a short-term step to appease the players on Friday.

Teams will pay players their next scheduled check on April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Typical NBA contracts spell out payments on the first and 15th of every month during the season, though different pay schedules can be spelled out within individual contracts.

That means that, for the most part, the league’s next payday after April 1 would have come on April 15.

The league will give teams “additional guidance” on that payday in the near future.

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While short-term solutions are necessary, the league has a bigger long-term problem to solve if it hopes to settle its finances. As it presently sits, the owners stand to take the brunt of the fall for lost games.

While salaries are guaranteed in advance through contracts, the cap is based on projected revenue. The league didn’t build coronavirus into its plans, so players had been set to be paid as if this was a normal season. 

The league has tools it can use to force a compromise. All player contracts have force majeure clauses that allow teams to withhold 1/92.6th of their salary for every canceled game, and 10 percent of player salaries are held in escrow in case players wind up earning more in a given season than the CBA allows. That means that, in all likelihood, the players and the league will work together to find a compromise that splits the burden of these lost matches evenly among both sides.

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Brewers, Christian Yelich gets contract extension

The Milwaukee Brewers, despite being in one of the smallest markets in the game, are ready to pay big to keep superstar outfielder Christian Yelich.

The Brewers and Yelich are close to agreeing to a contract extension that will keep him in Milwaukee for the long term, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal added the deal will be a seven-year extension on top of the two remaining years on Yelich’s contract. All told, Yelich is expected to make $215 million over the next nine years with the Brewers.

Yelich, 28, has been among the game’s best players since arriving in Milwaukee two years ago. He hit .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs en route to winning NL MVP honors in 2018, then followed it up with a .329/.429/.671 batting line and 44 homers in 2019. His 2019 campaign came to an end on Sept. 10, when he fouled a pitch into his knee and suffered a fractured kneecap.

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Clearly, the knee injury is not a long-term concern. Yelich is expected to make his spring debut later this week — he’s shifting back to left field after playing mostly right the last two seasons — and all indications are his knee has healed fine. If you’re going to give a player $200 million, it should be someone like Yelich. He impacts the game at the plate, in the field, and on the bases.

For the Brewers, there was no real urgency to get Yelich signed.

They already had him locked up through 2021 and under team control through 2022. That stems from the seven-year, $49.57 million extension Yelich signed with the Marlins back in March 2015.  

Rosenthal reports Yelich’s new contract will still pay him $12.5 million in 2020 and $14 million in 2021. The 2022 option will be torn up and replaced with a seven-year extension in the $190 million range. The total value is around $215 million and the contract will also include deferrals.

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