Ben Roethlisberger had NFL fans thinking that Retirement was a real possibility following the 2016 season. Every time he was asked about another season in the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback gave a noncommittal answer, putting fans more and more on edge. They no longer have to worry about the impending retirement of their franchise icon, however, as the quarterback tweeted on Friday afternoon that he would be returning for another season.

Coming back for a 14th season

The rumor mill start pumping about an early retirement back in January.

While speaking to 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger cast doubt on another season of football, using 'if' expressions about 2017 instead of 'when' expressions. The Steelers quarterback basically refused to offer an official statement on it either way from then on, although must people in the team's camp seemed fairly certain that he wouldn't be walking away from the game quite yet.

There are obvious reasons why Roethlisberger would want to walk away from the game at this stage of his life. The quarterback is 35 years old and likely doesn't enjoy the physical toll of being hit every week by 300-pound linemen anymore.

He also missed time with a knee injury last season. None of the team's brass really expected their quarterback to take retirement seriously, but it opens up the possibility that his final NFL season may actually be upon us.

Locked and loaded for 2017

With retirement in the rear view mirror, Roethlisberger and the Steelers can now focus on the 2017 season, where they are expected to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

They weren't far off last year and return all of their major offensive stars, including running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. The team should also get promising receiver Martavis Bryant back from a drug suspension that wiped out his entire season in 2016.

Still, if retirement is no longer as far off as some may have once thought for Roethlisberger, the Steelers have to start considering options for a future without him.

Landry Jones and Zack Mettenberger are his two primary backups, and while both entered the league with expectations, neither has shown much ability to capitalize on opportunity. It wouldn't be a major surprise to see Pittsburgh draft a mid-round prospect in the draft this year; to that end, Roethlisberger met with former Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs this week.