Ben Roethlisberger delivered some optimistic opinions for a Steelers team bracing for mass departures with the start of free agency next week.

He's healthy and not overly concerned with the many defections expected when the doors open wide Tuesday for the Steelers' 17 unrestricted free agents.

"There always will be some new guys, there always will be some guys leave," Roethlisberger said in a recent interview. "We never like to see anybody go but we know it's a business and guys have to do what's best for themselves and their families.

"For me, it's about getting better and taking the guys we have here and getting better, taking the new guys who are coming in -- rookies, free agents, whatever it is -- and getting better."

That starts with the quarterback, who missed three games last season with injuries to his arm and chest. The Steelers were 6-3 before Roethlisberger missed those three starts. They went 2-5 the rest of the way, including a 1-3 record upon his return. He did not look like the same quarterback in those games, and two late interceptions on passes he threw toward the sideline cost them in losses to Dallas and Cincinnati.

In overtime Dec. 9 in Dallas, Roethlisberger tried to throw a 10-yard out pass along the right sideline to Mike Wallace. It carried a little behind Wallace, and Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr intercepted it and returned it 36 yards to the Steelers 1 to set up the 27-24 Dallas victory.

The next week at home, Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson intercepted Roethlisberger's sideline pass with 14 seconds left in a tie game and the Bengals turned it into a field goal that won it, 13-10.