Source: Steelers would explore trade for Roethlisberger
By Jason La Canfora | NFL.com
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had no dialogue with other teams about dealing embattled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but have had significant internal discussions about the matter, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
According to the source, ownership remains dismayed and embarrassed by Roethlisberger's actions in a Georgia college town this offseason and find his string of other offseason incidents troubling. The team has been monitoring the public backlash against Roethlisberger closely.
"The Rooneys are livid," the source said.
Steelers President Art Rooney, II will meet with the media Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET to discuss the Roethlisberger situation, but is not expected to make an announcement regarding and sort of suspension or Punishment for Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh's front office has talked internally about possible trade scenarios that could be feasible and what makes sense for them moving forward, and, according to a source, if other teams called about Roethlisberger they would listen intently.
The Steelers could envision several trade scenarios but are skeptical about other teams taking on Roethlisberger, given his baggage. However, they also realize his contract is very tradeable in an uncapped year, with the bonuses already paid and Roethlisberger signed for six more years at a very manageable salary for a franchise quarterback ($8.05 million in 2010; $11.6 million per year from 2011-2014, and $12.1 million in 2015).
In particular, the Steelers are enamored with likely first-overall pick Sam Bradford. They view him as essentially a sure-thing franchise quarterback and have considered what it would take to move up to the first overall pick in a trade with the Rams, according to a source. They know executing such a move would be highly difficult and figure the Rams have limited interest in Roethlisberger.
Team officials are not worried about how Roethlisberger's return will impact the locker room or how teammates will handle it. The Rooneys' concern is born of the history and prestige of their franchise, the recent fan backlash and public perception about Roethlisberger and their belief that no player is bigger than the team.
However, the source noted that this is not "a Santonio Holmes situation," alluding to Pittsburgh dumping the talented but troubled receiver for a fifth-round pick over the weekend as he faced a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
"This is not a case of having to get rid of this guy,'" the source said. "There would have to be fair value."
Roethlisberger, selected 11th overall in 2004, has performed at an elite level for the Steelers. He is among the winngest quarterbacks ever for his age and already possesses two Super Bowl rings. His size, improvisational skills, and ability to escape the rush and deliver the ball to all parts of the field make him among the very best in the league.
Should Roethlisberger have another off-field misstep, however, his Steelers career would likely be over, according to team and league sources. And, if a legitimate trade scenario materialized, that end could come much sooner.
Teams that are not committed long-term to a starting quarterback include: Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis, San Francisco, Denver, Carolina, Seattle, Arizona. The Steelers refused to entertain dealing Holmes within the division and that would apply with Roethlisberger as well. A trade would likely have to involve a quarterback or put the Steelers in position to draft one they like (Pittsburgh is high on its young back-up, Dennis Dixon, however).
Finding the right deal is remote, they know, but not necessarily impossible.