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Does Ben Roethlisberger Want Traded?

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On the NFL’s Sunday morning pre-game show, so-called “insider” Ian Rapoport reported on the above posted tweet. Who is Ian Rapoport? I have no idea. He’s certainly never broken any notable scoops like ESPN or Fox NFL “insiders.” Whoever he is, he certainly did his job by “breaking” a story that even got ongoing updates from the crew covering the Bills-Steelers game.

Before we go into the analysis and denials, we should start with Rapoport’s tweet. He’d later whine he was being misquoted or that the Pittsburgh Steelers were denying things he never said. Rapoport’s scoop actually is two scoops in one. First, he alleges Ben Roethlisberger is going to ask to be traded this off-season. Secondly, he alleges the Steelers already contemplated parting ways with Ben by soliciting trade offers last spring.

The latter was met with a stern denial by team president Art Rooney II. The Deuce revealed that a team did call the Steelers about acquiring Ben but they had no plans to trade him then and have none to do so now. So right off the bat it’s clear Rapoport is an attention-seeking weasel. Teams call other teams all the time, that doesn’t mean anything. “Fielded offers” makes it sound like the Steelers called every QB needy team in the league and said, “Make me a deal!” They received ONE unsolicited call from ONE curious team.

Now on to Ben’s side of the story. His agent put out a series of tweets that when combined into actual speech of more than 140 characters reads like this:

  • “Ian Rapoport’s apparent sources seem to be guessing what Ben feels about the Steelers and being traded. This is completely wrong and inaccurate. Ben has always said he wants to play his entire career for the Steelers, and his roots are set firmly in Pittsburgh. He has a lot left in the tank & is 100% committed to winning more championships with the Steelers.” –Agent Ryan Tollner, Rep1 Sports

As you might imagine, Ben himself was quizzed about it after the game. His answer was that it “was one of the most B.S. stories I’ve ever heard of.” Never one to let a story lie, he was asked several more times as if different phrasing would suddenly make him go, “Oh yeah, I did mention to my agent I want out of here.” His response was equally emphatic, reiterating the story was “Ridiculous” and adding, “I don’t wanna go anywhere.”

Of course, the man in the center of the storm – as usual – was offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The rumor supposedly centered around Ben’s dissatisfaction with “the direction of the team” – ie: Haley – and would like to go somewhere more pleasant, such as out to the desert with his bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Bruce Arians. What’s strange is Rapoport also tweeted that he’s heard Haley and the entire offense staff will be shitcanned this off-season, which doesn’t make a lick of sense if Ben want’s to leave. Unless Ben is just hellbent on playing with Arians and nobody else.

Not since Linus and his blanket have I seen somebody clutch onto something tighter than Ben and his love of Arians’ offense. Am I the only one who remembers the #fireArians hashtag? Anybody?

Have the Steelers explored trading Big Ben? Other than in the wake of the Milledgeville fiasco, I don’t believe so. However, would they explore trading him this off-season? That I can believe. There are expected to be four or five potential first round QB prospects in this year’s draft, highlighted by expected first overall pick Teddy Bridgewater. After him, there’s dual threats Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel or more traditional passers like Zach Mettenberg or the Donavan McNabb-esque Brett Hundley.

Not thinking about the future has gotten the Steelers into the mess they’re currently in. If they were to end up with the 6th or 7th overall pick, it’d be irresponsible not to take a look at a QB of the future. With the rookie salary cap in place, that doesn’t mean they have to trade Ben. Although it would certainly be awkward to keep Ben around while a top 10 pick sits on the bench just waiting to take over. While that was the plan when Ben was drafted 11th overall, top 10 QB picks simply don’t sit around waiting in today’s NFL anymore.

As for Ben, he might not want out of Pittsburgh but it may be inevitable. Steeler hater Mike Florio floated contract dissatisfaction although I don’t see that as a big deal. Ben is scheduled to make $12 million the next two years, a shade less than the $14 million the Ravens gave that putz Joe Flacco. It’s not Brady or Peyton money but Ben isn’t either of those guys. Others have suggested an eventual salary cap crunch although I see that as even less of an issue. Thanks to signing bonuses and contract restructuring, the Steelers only free up $4 million if they trade Ben vs if they keep him.

Although maybe it is time for them to swallow the bitter pill of a few bad seasons in order to reload with young talent and get their salary cap house in order. The idea of trading Ben does open a giant can of worms. For one, do you trust the current buffoons to draft the right player to replace him? Then there’s the question if he can even be replaced. There are some nice looking QB prospects but  Steeler Nation waited 30 years for another Terry Bradshaw, it’s not like they grow on trees. Even if they manage to find a diamond in the rough, there will be growing pains. Can the Yinzers sit patiently while the Black and Gold undergo a proper rebuild

I don’t see Ben going anywhere. But never say never.