NFL Network continues to drive a wedge between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And Roethlisberger continues to reiterate his desire to stay in Pittsburgh — and to express frustration at the reports regarding the existence of reports that tend to drive a wedge between the Steelers and Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger joined WDVE radio on Friday morning, following the latest barrage from NFLN, which among other things suggested that Roethlisberger needs to spend more working on his craft while away from the team’s facility.
“First and foremost, I don’t want to go anywhere,” Roethlisberger said. “I want to be in Pittsburgh. I hope that’s very clear to everybody that I want to stay, my family wants to stay. We do not want to ask for a trade, we don’t want to go anywhere. I want to finish my career here. I’ve always said that, and I still feel firmly that way.”
While Roethlisberger suggested at times that the reports are fabricated, he acknowledged the possibility that someone in the building is talking out of turn, even though he doesn’t think that’s happening.
“When someone is a source and they’re unnamed, they have an agenda,” Roethlisberger said. “And their agenda is not winning football games and not helping this team. Whoever that agenda is coming from, they’re not helping us, they’re hurting us.”
Even if it’s coming from within the walls of the organization, Roethlisberger scoffed at the idea that he’s not working hard away from the facility.
“First of all, how does anybody know what I’m doing at home,” he said, “when I’m watching film or I’m looking through my playbook at home, unless someone someone’s got cameras set up in my house and they’re spying on me? But then they’d see the truth that I am doing that stuff.”
He makes a good point, but it could be that folks in the building are concluding that he’s not doing anything at home based on where his level of preparation is, or isn’t, after a day or night off.
As to the far more relevant question regarding Roethlisberger’s next contract, given that his $17 million-plus cap number for 2014 can’t be reduced without an extension, Roethlisberger again avoided the question.
“I’m still ignorant to how all these cap things works and contracts,” Roethlisberger said. “Honestly, if they come to me and say hey we want to restructure a deal or we want to do [a deal], whatever, I want to help the team out. But all I can focus on right now is this season and this game. Because that’s all that matters to me. I don’t look for the future or the long term. What’s gonna happen next year? When’s my contract up? These kind of things. For me, it’s about how can I win this game, this week?”
Did you see what he did there? In one breath, he says he never wants to leave the Steelers, but then he later says he’s not focused on the future. If the last part is true, how can he say he never wants to leave, since that necessarily requires a focus on the future?
Initially, we suspected the Steelers were leaking these stories to generate a viable Plan B in the event that they can’t persuade Roethlisberger to insist on less than $20 million or more per year. If so, it worked — because teams definitely will be inquiring about Roethlisberger in the offseason.
But the bigger goal seems to be helping the Steelers nail down Plan A: Getting Ben to take less in order to stay in Pittsburgh.
While it appears at times that Plan A is working (especially when he angrily insists he never wants to leave), Ben continues to stop short of saying anything that would suggest he’d take less money than what he thinks he’s worth in order to stay in Pittsburgh.
Once he says that — once he declares that he’ll do whatever deal is necessary to stay with the Steelers — Plan A will be deemed successful. So far, however, he has yet to take the bait.