Tomlin not alarmed as Roethlisberger ponders future

PITTSBURGH (AP) " As a general philosophy, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin treats each individual season as its own unique entity, with no direct through line from one to the next.

Considering his quarterback's current state of mind, probably a good idea.

While Tomlin believes the Steelers have a "championship caliber" team a couple days removed from an ugly blowout loss to New England in the AFC title game, his franchise's most important player isn't guaranteeing a return in 2017. Roethlisberger said during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan that he needs time to reflect before coming back for a 14th season.

"I'm going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there's going to be a next season, all those things," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger will turn 35 in March and is under contract through 2020. Knee injuries have forced him to miss time in each of the last two seasons and while Pittsburgh ripped off nine straight wins on its way to the AFC North title and its first appearance in the NFL's final four in six years, Roethlisberger wasn't terribly sharp.

He threw 10 interceptions over Pittsburgh's final seven games, though the two-time Super Bowl winner didn't receive much help on Sunday against the Patriots, as dropped passes, a groin injury to running back Le'Veon Bell and occasionally questionable playcalling " not to mention Tom Brady at the peak of his powers " played significant factors in the worst postseason loss of his career.

While Roethlisberger cautioned he's "not by any means saying he's not coming back," the father of three considered it "prudent" to take a step back before deciding if he has the energy to make another push.

That's fine by Tomlin, who wasn't alarmed by Roethlisberger's admission mostly because they've had similar discussions in the past.

"That's football," Tomlin said. "Obviously I'm hopeful that he returns and the potential of his return or not returning will weigh heavily on our planning. That's life. He's the most significant component of what it is that we do. We'll plan and react accordingly."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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