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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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Jadeveon Clowney signs with Titans

Jadeveon Clowney made clear for months he wanted to be with a team that can win a Super Bowl, and he’s finally made his choice even if he didn’t get the long-term deal in the process.

The Tennessee Titans announced Sunday they agreed to terms with the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker on a one-year contract. The Titans did not reveal the terms Sunday. But ESPN.com reported the deal could be worth up to $15 million.

The No. 1 overall pick of 2014, Clowney went into free agency looking for a mega-contract that never came calling. The pandemic shut down travel for physicals, and Clowney didn’t visit anybody once the NFL permitted free agents to meet teams in person.

Clowney spent most of his career with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2019 campaign. He hit free agency this past spring and came to an settlement with the Titans nine days before their 2020 season opener.

They play the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

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Since 2016 according to Sportradar, only Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones have combined for more tackles for loss, forced fumbles and quarterback pressures than Clowney who has 60 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 159 total pressures.

Clowney, 27, is rejoining coach Mike Vrabel.

They worked together for three seasons in Houston when Vrabel was the defensive line coach. One of those years, Clowney reached the Pro Bowl after he had 59 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Vrabel and the Titans reached the AFC championship game in 2019 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. In six NFL seasons, Clowney has 236 tackles, 71 tackles for loss and 32 sacks.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the biggest stars left in the free agent market ahead of the 2020 season openers. He is coming off a core injury that required offseason surgery.

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Madison Bumgarner reaches 5 year deal with D-backs

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a five-year, $85 million deal, sources familiar with the agreement told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The value of the deal was first reported by The Athletic.

The 30-year-old Bumgarner, the MVP of the 2014 World Series for the San Francisco Giants, went 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA last campaign, following two somewhat forgettable injury-shortened seasons.

In 2019, Bumgarner bounced back to tie for the National League lead with 34 starts and was second with 207 innings pitched, which erased many doubts that the Giants icon could again showcase his trademark durability.

A 10-year veteran, “MadBum” logged six straight seasons with double-digit victories, more than 200 innings and 30-plus starts — finishing with 18, 18 and 15 wins, respectively, in 2012, 2013and 2014. But the 6-foot-4 left-hander went 4-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 17 starts in 2017, when he missed nearly three months following a dirt bike accident during an off day in Colorado.

He threw just 111 innings that season to match his career-low total from 2010, when he was promoted to the majors in June.

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Then Bumgarner broke the pinkie on his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive from Kansas City Royals hitter Whit Merrifield in his final 2018 spring training start, undergoing surgery to insert pins into the finger.

He returned in June and wound up going 6-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts and 129 innings.

In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a $35.56 million, six-year deal through 2017 that included $12 million in club options for both 2018 and ’19.

Before San Francisco staged a bit of a midseason surge to get into playoff contention this past season, Bumgarner had been mentioned as a potential top trade target prior to the July 31 deadline.

Bumgarner has 1,794 strikeouts, which ranks 14th on the active list, and has a career record of 119-92 with a 3.13 ERA. He has been a clutch postseason pitcher in each of San Francisco’s World Series title-winning seasons in 2010, ’12 and ’14.

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