Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to talk about the report that he could ask the team to explore trade options after the season ends. Even though he doesn’t want to.
“I’m tired of it,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “It upsets me. I have no idea where it came from, and I wish I could find out where it came from because it’s so stinking upsetting. It just fires me up. Where do people make this stuff up from?”
Here’s an idea. What if the Steelers leaked the report to create an offseason market for Roethlisberger, in the event the Steelers need a viable Plan B to extending his contract?
Consider the specific report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network: “Steelers sources expect Big Ben to ask them to explore trade options after 2013. They fielded offers for him last offseason. Could again.”
Steelers sources. Not sources close to Roethlisberger. Steelers sources.
“I’d retire before I’d accept a trade,” Roethlisberger said Monday, via Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I mean, it would have to be something really, really unbelievable for me to even consider it.”
Here’s something that Roethlisberger possibly would regard as “really, really unbelievable.” With the Steelers needing cap space and Roethlisberger having only two years remaining on his deal and Roethlisberger due to make $12.1 million in 2014 and $11.6 million in 2015, the Steelers will need to extend his contract after the season, and they quite possibly will offer Roethlisberger something far less than he thinks he’s worth.
In Roethlisberger’s mind, that could be “really, really unbelievable.”
Think about the potential gap between Roethlisberger’s perceived value and the team’s assessment of it. He regards Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the best quarterback in the game because he has three Super Bowl wins. This implies that Roethlisberger regards himself as tied for No. 2 along with Giants quarterback Eli Manning, since they each have two.
The top of the market for quarterbacks currently exceeds $20 million per year. Guys who have won one or zero Super Bowls are making that much or more. Ben isn’t. Ben may very well want to be.
Indeed, during his Tuesday appearance on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger danced around the question of whether he’d take less to help the team and stay in Pittsburgh.
“I’m so ignorant when it comes to that stuff,” Roethlisberger said. “I do what my [agents] tell me and obviously I’ll have my input for thing. But I’m so ignorant to those things. Honestly, my job is to play football.”
If Roethlisberger and/or his agents decide that he wants to be paid commensurately with men who have achieved less than he has and if the Steelers decide not to offer that kind of money, the Steelers will need a viable alternative. And if the Steelers are receiving offers in the offseason for Ben, an alternative path emerges.
Now that the story has emerged, the end result will be the same as if the Steelers launched an auction for Roethlisberger’s services. And the Steelers will have plenty of leverage, because their official position remains that they want to keep him.
Sure, they want to keep him. But not at the level of compensation he’ll want to receive under a new contract.