At a time when the NFL’s attention has been focused almost exclusive on the drama in Miami, a quarterback who knows a thing or two about drama has stepped back into the spotlight.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t happy with the team’s current direction. The concerns, per Rapoport, go beyond offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
According to Rapoport, a trade request could be coming in the offseason. While the Steelers reportedly won’t be inclined to do it unless they can replace Roethlisberger with a franchise quarterback, it’s hard to keep a quarterback on a team if the quarterback doesn’t want to be there.
His concerns aren’t surprising. In recent years, the Steelers have tried to change the offense to diminish the passing game and return the focus to the running game.
The seeds for a potential conflict were planted not when the Steelers created an oil-and-water relationship between Roethlisberger and Haley but when the Steelers tried to force offensive coordinator Bruce Arians into retirement after the 2011 season. As we understand it, the Arians-Roethlisberger relationship had become a problem for the organization, with Arians believed to be more concerned about helping the quarterback rack up stats at the risk of helping the team win games.
Some believe that Arians’ desire to help Roethlisberger become the MVP of Super Bowl XLV contributed to the team’s failure to win the game.
Most recently, Roethlisberger has expressed concern about the team’s use of the Wildcat offense. With teams that have true franchise quarterbacks rarely if ever taking the ball out of the franchise quarterback’s hands, the shift could be viewed as a belief in the ‘Burgh that Roethlisberger no longer occupies a spot at the top of the sport.
Ben’s recent insistence that Tom Brady must be regarded as the best quarterback in the game because he has three Super Bowl wins carries a clear implication that Roethlisberger sees himself as tied for No. 2 with Eli Manning.
The question now becomes whether Roethlisberger is destined to no longer be the No. 1 quarterback in Pittsburgh. If not, an Arians reunion in Arizona makes the most sense — especially since that could be the best way for the Cardinals to keep Larry Fitzgerald.
Assuming the spotlight in Glendale would be big enough for both of them.