Steelers president Rooney expects Roethlisberger to return

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II walks on the sidelines at Heinz Field before an NFL football game between the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were one win from the Super Bowl in 2016. While Rooeny sees it as a sign of progress, he's also aware there are plenty of things to address in the offseasonAP Photo/Gene Puskar, File)

PITTSBURGH (AP) The ”to-do” list for Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin heading into the offseason is pretty extensive.

Finding a replacement for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not on it.

Rooney said Tuesday he anticipates the two-time Super Bowl winner returning for a 14th season in 2017. Roethlisberger said last week he needed to evaluate things before committed to coming back to the AFC North champions. Rooney spoke to the franchise’s all-time passing leader and while Rooney would prefer to keep the specifics of the conversation private, he wasn’t alarmed by Roethlisberger mulling his future after the Steelers were blown out by New England in the AFC championship game.

”I think he’s at that stage in his career that those are thoughts I think you have,” Rooney said. ”I personally expect that he’ll be back but that’s going to be his decision.”

The Steelers went 11-5 and won nine straight games following a 4-5 start to reach conference title game for the first time in six years. Rooney doesn’t believe in incremental progress, saying the team will have to start over at square one next season. Still, he’s hopeful the playoff experience will help a roster littered with young players – particularly on defense – and indicated the team will do everything it can to keep the most important components of its dynamic offense happy.

That includes making sure running back Le’Veon Bell, set to become a free agent in March, stays in town.

”Le’Veon had a great year and he certainly one of the top backs in the league if not the best back in the league,” Rooney said. ”He’s somebody we hope to have around for a little while…