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Ben Roethlisberger Rumors: Bears Discussed Steelers QB Prior to New Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) walks off the field after a 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears discussed a potential move for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.

Roethlisberger and the Steelers put any speculation about his future to bed when they agreed to rework his contract for the 2021 season.

La Canfora reported the Bears were also "pretty serious" about pursuing Carson Wentz before his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts. With Wentz and Roethlisberger off the board, pressure is building for Chicago to do something big at quarterback:

"Well, sources said they are prepared to throw a boatload of picks at the Texans -- for Deshaun Watson -- and Seahawks -- for Russell Wilson -- in an attempt to upgrade at the most important position in all of professional sports. They are beyond serious and, as is generally the case when job security is at the fore, future picks in like 2023 don't hold all that much value in real time. They don't have the type of young, cheap talent that some other trade suitors do, but you can always keep throwing future top draft picks at the problem.

"'There is a real sense of panic in that building,' as one NFL executive put it. 'Don't underestimate how desperate they are.'"

Roethlisberger would've been an upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky, but it's debatable whether the gap would've been big enough to markedly improve Chicago's Super Bowl hopes.

Big Ben threw for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020. His performance noticeably dipped toward the end of the year. Of his final five appearances, he averaged 5.6 yards per attempt and saw his passer rating slip to 81.9. Half of his interception total came during that stretch, too. Then came the Steelers' playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, when Roethlisberger went 47-of-68 for 501 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Ringer's Danny Heifetz zeroed in on one reason the 39-year-old experienced such an abrupt decline:

"Roethlisberger got rid of the ball in an average of 2.1 seconds last year, according to Pro Football Focus, the fastest mark on record since PFF began tracking the stat a decade ago. That worked fine over Pittsburgh's 11-0 start, but the offense stalled once defenses realized the blueprint. Defensive linemen would jump to bat down passes. Cornerbacks didn't respect deep routes. And the Steelers had no response (other than dropping a lot of passes, which did not help)."

Maybe Roethlisberger would feel comfortable in the pocket for a little longer with a better offensive line. But he's not suddenly going to become more mobile, and it's difficult to see how he discovers more arm strength at this point in his career.

Tom Brady is fresh off winning his seventh Super Bowl at 43. The trouble with comparing any aging quarterback to Brady is that he's the greatest ever to play the position.

Drew Brees might be a better parallel to Roethlisberger. Brees' limitations were glaring as the New Orleans Saints lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round.

Missing out on Roethlisberger might be blessing in disguise for the Bears because it forces them to find a long-term solution at quarterback rather than papering over the cracks with a stopgap.

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