Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said it is "reasonable to assume there is a chance" that star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return in 2021 after the team's disappointing playoff exit.
Roethlisberger was not ready to discuss his future after the Steelers surprisingly lost to the Cleveland Browns in last week's NFL Wild Card clash.
The 38-year-old has spent his entire professional career in Pittsburgh, where he has become a franchise pillar and guided the Steelers to two Super Bowl triumphs.
But question marks emerged following the Browns defeat after Roethlisberger threw four interceptions – finishing 47-of-68 passing for 501 yards and four touchdowns.
Roethlisberger has one year remaining on his contract worth $41.2million and when asked about the six-time Pro Bowler, Tomlin told reporters on Wednesday: "I don't have a clear assessment of the overall impact of the cap ramifications, so I might not have a direct answer to your question.
"But I think it is reasonable to assume there is a chance that he will be back, certainly. The depths of the ramifications of the cap discussions, I am not privy to as I sit here right now."
Led by Roethlisberger, the Steelers opened the season 11-0 but he and Pittsburgh faded dramatically.
Roethlisberger finished his 17th season ranked third in completions (399), 16th in yards (3,803), tied for seventh in touchdowns (33) and tied for eighth for fewest interceptions (10).
"We haven't made any decisions about any of our personnel along those lines," said Tomlin. "All of those discussions are interrelated, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what 2021 looks like in terms of the makeup of our team and the issues relative to it.
"In regard to Ben, I can't say enough about his performance this year. With the uncertainly coming off of injury, and particularly not having an opportunity to perform in preseason games and so forth, there really was a high level of concern about his health and his ability to perform. I can't say enough about his efforts. I can't say enough about the efforts of our medical staff and our rehabilitation staff that worked hand in hand with him to get him to that process and get him to stadiums this year.
"I was more than pleased with the performance of his health and his ability to stay up. In terms of the quality of his play and our play, we'll begin to assess that in the upcoming days, but in terms of him responding to the challenges that he specifically came into the season ready to face, spectacular."