Steelers shore up line, sign Pouncey and Foster to new deals

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made a significant investment in protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, signing Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and left guard Ramon Foster to new deals Thursday.

Foster was set to become a free agent when the new NFL year begins next week but that's off the table after the 10-year veteran agreed to a two-year deal that will pay him $8.25 million and lets him stay with the club he's made 131 starts for since 2009.

Pouncey was entering the final year of the $44 million deal he signed in 2014. The contract he signed Thursday runs through 2021 and will pay him $11 million in 2020 and 2021. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Pouncey has served as the anchor for the offensive line in front of Roethlisberger since 2010.

The signings also clear the way for Pittsburgh to move forward with a new contract for Roethlisberger. The 37-year-old is about to enter the final season of a contract extension he signed in 2015 and the two-time Super Bowl winner believes he can play several more seasons. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said at the combine last week the team has begun talking to Roethlisberger about a new deal that would likely run through 2021.

Roethlisberger has long maintained he plays behind one of the best lines in the league. He's been sacked 24 times or less in each of the last four seasons and he led the NFL and set a franchise record in 2018 when he passed for 5,129 yards. His 34 passing touchdowns were also a new franchise mark.