On Friday, ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli wrote in the second item of his Tip Sheet (which Bristol unwisely continues to push behind the “Insider” pay wall) that “a Steelers source I trust implicitly insists that team will not trade quarterback Ben Roethlisberger,” if he stays out of trouble. More recently, Steelers president Art Rooney II has told Peter King of SI.com that “a fair reading” of Rooney’s recent remarks regarding Roethlisbeger would be that he won’t be traded.
But those accounts come after days of rampant speculation and reports that Roethlisberger is available, and the Steelers have not said unequivocally that Roethlisberger won’t be traded. As a league source explained it last week, this is the kind of thing that a team needs to “nip in the bud” early, if it’s not true. The Steelers didn’t. And even now the team isn’t being as clear as they need to be.
So what’s going on? It could be that they simply hope to continue to keep their distance from Roethlisberger as the tales of his visit to Milledgeville, Georgia continue to trickle into the public consciousness. It could be that they want him to feel like he’s twisting in the wind a bit regarding whether he’ll get to stay in Pittsburgh. And it could be that the Steelers are still waiting for the phone to ring with one or more offers from another team.
Really, there can be no trade without a willing partner. Word of his availability got out via a report trumpeted on the front page of the league’s official web site. (And it’s still there.) In the four days since, it’s unknown whether anyone has called. And the Steelers need to be able to plausibly say they never considered moving him, if that phone never rings.