Ben Roethlisberger has three desires as he enters the offseason: A tall wide receiver, the return of guard Alan Faneca, and a new contract as soon as possible.
The contract most likely will be worked out, even if it does not occur as quickly as the Steelers quarterback might prefer. The other two are more problematic.
Faneca becomes an unrestricted free agent Feb. 29, and while the Steelers plan to talk to his agent before then, even director of football operations Kevin Colbert noted Monday that "the price most likely has gone up."
Still, Roethlisberger made his pitch to management that they try to keep his All-Pro guard, who has been a linchpin of the offensive line for a decade.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Roethlisberger said yesterday. "That's hard for me, there could be an outlying story, something here or there I don't know about. But they do know how I feel about it. They know how valuable he is."
He also knows that a similar plea he made to keep 6-5 receiver Plaxico Burress when he became an unrestricted free agent three years ago went unheeded.
Now Roethlisberger has made another appeal for the Steelers to acquire another tall wide receiver. His top three receivers are Hines Ward, listed as 6 feet, 5-11 Santonio Holmes and 6-1 Nate Washington.
"I'm always going to ask for a tall receiver," Roethlisberger said. "That's just me. Our receivers are unbelievable, but our tallest guy might be Hines? Or Santonio? Hines is going to say he's 6 foot, but he's 5-11, now."
The Steelers do have tall tight ends in 6-5 Heath Miller and 6-7 Matt Spaeth, but Roethlisberger would like to spot a taller target at wide receiver as well.
"It's nice to have a bailout guy, you know when you're in trouble and you just kind of throw it up. In the red zone its nice to have a guy like that. Obviously, we have a guy like Nate who can jump out of this world. He can jump so high. It's nice to have that.
"But to have a big guy who can create mismatches -- the same thing happened when Plax was here. So much presence went to Plax's side just because he's a big, good receiver, that Hines was always open or Antwaan [Randle El]. I just think it would open stuff up for us a lot more."
Part of it also has to do with the physics of the forward pass when he delivers it.
"I'm 6-5," Roethlisberger noted. "I throw down to a lot of these guys. You see so many times Hines reaching up and I'm getting him killed because he's reaching up for balls and I'm just throwing it on my plane. To have someone on the same plane as me would just make my job ... I wouldn't get Hines killed going across the middle all the time."
Roethlisberger said he has talked to the Steelers about it and that "we'll probably look for some guys in free agency, I would assume, look in there and see what we can find."
He also said that 6-3 Dallas Baker, a seventh-round draft pick from Florida who spent his rookie season on the Steelers' practice squad, might ultimately help in that regard.
"As soon as he gets out of that wide receiver funk of just running routes on a card, he has the potential to be pretty good," Roethlisberger said.
The quarterback has two years left on the contract he signed as a rookie in 2004, and both sides acknowledge that this is the year to extend it. He would prefer that to happen sooner rather than later.
"I'm eager, anxious because I want to get it done with, I want to say let's go, let's get it over with so the talks can stop, people can stop bugging me about it. Because I just want to play football. Let's get it over with, let's get it done so I can get right back into football and not think about it and not have people talking about it all the time."
His agent, Ryan Tollner, wanted to try to extend the deal a year ago, but the Steelers preferred to wait. No talks have yet been scheduled as far as Roethlisberger knows.
"My guys are waiting for that call," Roethlisberger said. "We don't want to push it. We are waiting to hear something from them.
"I don't know what to expect because you hear so many different stories from guys who have been here before and the media."
Might he take a Tom Brady-like stance where he does not demand as much as he might be able to get in order to save salary-cap room so the Steelers can sign others?
"You know what? I'm not even dealing with that right now," Roethlisberger said. "I'm always going to do what's best for this team."