Ryan Shazier will have some sort of role with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 following his serious back injury.
Steelers linebacker Shazier is still recovering from a spinal injury he suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals in December.
The 25-year-old, who underwent stabilisation surgery, was released from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute last week and is headed to an outpatient rehab facility to continue his treatment.
Shazier would be entering the fifth year on his initial contract. After earning $9.56million over his first NFL seasons, he will count $8.7m against the Steelers' salary cap after the team exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract last year.
"I expect Ryan is going to be here one way or the other and have a role with the team one way or the other in 2018, for sure," Steelers owner Art Rooney II said on Wednesday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Speaking to a small group of reporters, Rooney also said he expects quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play at least two more seasons.
The 36-year-old quarterback, who is coming off his 14th NFL season, has been the subject of retirement rumours since joking in October that maybe he "doesn't have it anymore" following a five-interception game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Roethlisberger's deal runs through the 2019 season. Rooney said he would like "to figure out how" to extend the QB's contract.
"We'll address that at the right time," Rooney added. "But bottom line is we're excited that's the way he feels and look forward to continue to work with him and hopefully get a couple more rings for him.
"When you're dealing with somebody at this stage of his career, I'm not sure we've ever dealt with a quarterback that we're extending at this age. So there's no precedent where we are.
"Look, we have a great relationship with Ben. We'll talk through things. The important thing is he wants to be here and he wants to continue beyond the contract. That’s great."
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