The rumor mill has been spinning so fast concerning Ben Roethlisberger in recent weeks, that it has left fans and draft experts alike dizzy or confused, depending on where they jumped off.
The most recent rumors have the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to unload the franchise quarterback for a Top 10 pick tonight in New York. Yet, the question remains, does anyone want to do the dance of give and take necessary to get the deal done?
There are only two teams that have the parts it would take to make the deal possible, and really only one that makes sense enough to possibly pursue.
The Steelers pursued the Rams about doing a deal for the first overall pick and were turned down firmly. With that said, as of right now the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders own the rights to the seventh and eighth picks in the draft, respectively. They are also the only two teams that have enough to offer in return to make the deal viable for Pittsburgh.
Cleveland has five picks within the first three rounds of the 2010 draft, but there are two things that are working against their participation in trade talks.
The primary concern you face in trading Roethlisberger to the Browns is trading him within the division. The Steelers would then have to play Roethlisberger and the Browns twice a year for the duration of his career.
Whether Roethlisberger is a morally sound individual or not, he is still a franchise quarterback and a proven winner. You think the Eagles trading Donovan McNabb within the division was crazy? Try trading a top four quarterback and a multiple Super Bowl winner to a division rival. You can be sure this trade situation would come back to bite them in the butt more than once.
You also have to consider the idea that the move still leaves them six picks away from Sam Bradford. The consolation prize would be Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, if they even take a quarterback with the pick. Clausen’s inconsistency and questionable leadership ability is not what the Steelers are truly seeking to gain from parting ways with Roethlisberger.
With all the deterring factors that loom with the Browns, the Raiders seem to be the most logical trading partner.
Oakland has the eighth pick, but they do not seem willing to leave Thursday night without having made a first round selection. If the trade was to happen here is the most feasible deal for both sides:
QB- Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers First Round Pick No. 18 overall
Raiders First Round Pick No. 8 overall
The potential deal allows Pittsburgh several key options and pieces to add to the puzzle. First of all the Steelers achieve the primary objective of parting ways with Roethlisberger. The deal also moves them from the 18th pick to the eighth pick in tonight’s first round. The last addition is getting an elite shutdown corner in Asomugha.
The addition of Asomugha would settle some major questions in the Steelers secondary, and allow them to concentrate on other needs in the draft this weekend. Ideally, the Steelers would then spend their higher draft pick on one of the elite offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class.
After addressing the line with the higher pick, the Steelers then have an opportunity to draft Dan LeFevour out of Central Michigan in the third round. While he is the fifth ranked quarterback on most boards, he is one of three guys that have the potential to make the jump to the NFL and be a high-caliber starter within a year or two.
While the Steelers have built a trading block and put their uncontrollable show pony on display, it seems extremely unlikely that they are going to actually sell him off. However, let the warning shot be heard, the Steelers have sent a clear message to Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of their team: No one is above the team, and a standard of living that is above reproach is expected in order to play for the most successful franchise in NFL history.
Trading Roethlisberger under the current circumstances does not make good business sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The factors playing into this potential trade will allow the team to get better on a number of levels, but the trade does not make the team, as a whole, better.
Quarterback is the toughest position to play in the NFL, and whom you have under center can determine your success or failure on a number of levels. In Pittsburgh’s case, the difference between having a quarterback like Roethlisberger in your backfield as compared to having a Byron Leftwich under center is the difference between having a Super Bowl contender and a team that may not make the playoffs.
With the Steelers’ current pre-draft roster the biggest weakness statistically and otherwise is their offensive line. The Steelers surrendered 50 sacks last season. Some would argue that Roethlisberger’s mobility and tendency to hold on to the ball too long in order to make a play added to that number. On the other hand it is easy to argue that his ability to move with instant pressure in his face, which was often the case, saved him from being sacked closer to 60 times.
A heavy-footed quarterback like Byron Leftwich under center as the sole starting quarterback changes the entire dynamic of the Steelers offense. Add to the fact that Santonio Holmes is no longer on the roster and you can easily swing three to four tallies into the loss column over the course of the season.
Trading an elite, proven NFL quarterback for the opportunity to draft a college quarterback like Clausen, that could boom or bust, is a dangerous endeavor. The decision to make such a trade has the potential to be the worst trade in NFL history, should Roethlisberger go on to have continued success and his replacement do less than the same.
Making this trade would be a firm statement in terms of principles. The question is, are the Rooneys willing to pay the possible price of having the effects of this trade haunt them in order to make that statement?