NFL Rumors: Latest on Ben Roethlisberger's Status, Colin Kaepernick, More

Joe PantornoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (7) is taken off the field after getting sacked by Cincinnati Bengals' Vontaze Burfict (55) during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers/Associated Press

Halfway through the divisional weekend, there has been plenty of action both on and off of the field. While a Super Bowl is being contended for by six remaining teams, organizations that saw their offseason begin a few weeks early have made some big changes on the sidelines.

As we get ready for Seahawks-Panthers and Steelers-Broncos, let's take a look at the latest rumors swirling on and off of the field around the league. 

Big Ben Expected to Play

According to Sal Paolantonio, via the NFL on ESPN, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be making the trip to Denver with the team and is expected to play against the Broncos. 

On Tuesday, Roethlisberger confirmed on 93.7 The Fan that he has a sprained AC joint and some torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder, via A.J. Perez of USA Today

ESPN's Stephania Bell takes a look at how this injury will hinder him on Sunday:

An AC sprain makes it particularly painful for an athlete to raise his arm overhead; movements across the body also can be difficult. For a throwing athlete, coming across the top of the arc of motion and advancing the throw can be affected. The grade of injury reflects the extent of ligament damage and the associated discomfort, but in the absence of a surgery (typically reserved for the most severe cases), the ability to play typically comes down to how well the athlete can function in the presence of the injury.

It's quite admirable that Roethlisberger will be playing in such pain. Over his career, he's built up the reputation of playing through injury as one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league. 

But the Broncos aren't looking much into the injury. 

"Ben, he kind of looks like Obi-Wan Kenobi. He tried to pull the Jedi mind trick on everybody,” Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith told Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today. “’Oh yeah, I’m really hurt. I might not play.’ And then he comes in the game and tries to ball.”

It's hard enough to take on the NFL's best defense like the Broncos, but the Steelers will be going into Sunday banged up without wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back DeAngelo Williams. 

Add the fact that their quarterback has a banged up shoulder and the Steelers could be in for a long Sunday evening. 

Kelly, Kaepernick Duo Not Confirmed

It's been a general consensus around the league that new San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly is just the man needed to get quarterback Colin Kaepernick back into gear. 

The problem is, Kaepernick was not present at all during the 49ers' coaching search.

Per Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, "Kaepernick, according to a source, is unsure how to react to Kelly’s hiring because he’s unsure whether Kelly sees him in the 49ers’ future."

While the 49ers were pursuing Kelly, which was an 11-day ordeal, Kaepernick was in Vail, Colorado, "having physical therapy done on his left shoulder," per Inman. 

Kaepernick, who signed through the 2020 season, had the worst season of his young career, which saw him benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. It was indicative of the 49ers' season, which ended at 5-11. 

Once he was benched, rumors began to fly that Kaepernick was done as a 49er, via CBS Sports' Jason La Confora. Since then it's been reported that San Francisco is open to keeping the quarterback, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, via 

According to Inman, Kaepernick's $11.9 million contract becomes guaranteed if he's on the roster on April 1. So if the 49ers do indeed want to move Kaepernick, a deal will have to be done before then to save some money. 

Browns Look for Additional Sideline Acquisitions

Having already hired one of the hottest candidates on the market in Hue Jackson as their head coach, the Cleveland Browns seem to be close to finding his right-hand man, per ESPN's Josina Anderson:

Pep Hamilton has spent the past three seasons as the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator. While the Colts struggled without Andrew Luck in 2015, Hamilton's unit was one of the most potent offensive groups in the league when healthy. 

In 2014, Hamilton's offense held the best pass game in the league. 

The coordinator position is as high as he's gone in the NFL. His last stints in the league with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears saw him coach the quarterbacks and serve as an offensive assistant. 

According to ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi, Hamilton met with Jackson on Friday. Whatever his position if he does decide to go to Cleveland, Hamilton will probably not call the plays. Jackson told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, that he will be calling the offensive plays as coordinator.