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Big Ben may play beyond 2017 but is ‘only going to focus on this year’

Ben Roethlisberger has made it abundantly clear that retirement is on the table following the 2017 NFL season. But the Pittsburgh Steelers veteran quarterback suggests solid play out of his offensive line might convince him to play a bit longer.

In fact, Big Ben even stated he hopes to play beyond 2017.

Roethlisberger, 35, considered retiring this past offseason but ultimately decided to give himself one more year. He has consistently maintained nothing is guaranteed beyond this season. On Wednesday, Roethlisberger hinted that staying off his back and avoiding punishing hits courtesy of the offensive line protecting him well could go a long way in extending his career.

“If those guys up front are playing as well as they have been playing, getting sacked (a career-low) 17 times in (2016) — it might keep me around a little longer,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On top of getting sacked only 17 times in 14 games last season, Roethlisberger was sacked 20 times in 12 games in 2015, the two lowest totals of his storied career.

Roethlisberger, while continuing to insist anything beyond this season is up in the air, did leave playing beyond 2017 as a distinct possibility.

“I hope (to play multiple future seasons), but I’m only going to focus on this year,” Roethlisberger said. “I am going everything I have right here to this training camp, to this season and to the first game.

“I’ve committed myself 110 percent to that, and I’ll do that through the season. But I’m not gonna look past — let alone this season — I don’t look past today. I think we are all blessed to be here for this day. We wake up today, and tomorrow is not promised to any of us, so we should enjoy this moment right here, right now.”

Roethlisberger has two years remaining on his current deal. If Roethlisberger actually does play out his entire contract arguably would be a surprise given how seriously he contemplated retirement in the offseason. Then again, Roethlisberger is as tough as they come and perhaps his competitiveness will overcome any lingering desires to hang it up.

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