Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has committed to the team for 2017. As the 2017 draft approaches, Roethlisberger wants it to be known that he’s not expecting the team to make a commitment at any one specific position.
Specifically, Roethlisberger has disputed a report from NFL Network that he’s lobbying for the team to take a tight end.
“Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in [the team facility] not less than two weeks ago and he said to Mike Tomlin, ‘Get me some more help,'” Aditi Kinkhabwala recently said on NFL Network. “He was lobbying for a tight end.”
Said Roethlisberger in a statement provided to PFT: “The report of me lobbying to draft a tight end or pass catcher is wrong. Coaches and teammates know I love the guys we have and always believe we can win. I trust the organization to do their best selecting players to help us, and every year they tell me generally the positions they are exploring, but I have not lobbied or demanded we add a tight end or pass catcher or any other position through the draft or free agency.”
Last year, the Steelers signed tight end Ladarius Green as the potential replacement for Heath Miller, who retired. Injuries limited Green dramatically, and Jesse James emerged as the top option at the position, catching 39 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s not the first time Roethlisberger has spoken out in response to a report from NFL Network. In 2013, he aggressively disputed a claim that he planned to ask the team to explore trade options after the season.
“It is one of the most BS stories that I’ve ever heard of,” Roethlisberger said at the time. “I’ve always said that I want to be a Steeler for life. I love it here. I’m happy here. I don’t want to go anywhere. No one in my family, our camp, agents, no one has ever said anything about that. Wherever this was made up from is totally false.” (Reminder: He has remained with the Steelers consistently since then, and he hasn’t asked for a trade.)
While Roethlisberger used more measured words this time around, the point is the same: He disagrees with the NFLN report.
The broader question as it relates to the Steelers (and every other team with an aging franchise quarterback) is whether he’ll disagree with a decision to use the first-round pick on the quarterback’s eventual replacement.