All things considered, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shouldn’t have been quite so candid regarding his reaction to the team’s decision to spend a mid-level draft pick on another quarterback for a second straight season. After further consideration, however, there are certain aspects of Roethlisberger’s rant that merit a measure of respect.
First, he’s not playing games or beating around the bush, like a plead-the-fifth-ing future Hall of Famer who wouldn’t give a direct answer to the very specific and precise question of whether he feels appreciated. Roethlisberger has a concern, and if he’s not going to keep it to himself, he may as well put all cards on the table.
Second, Roethlisberger knows that he has only so many bites at the apple to win a third Super Bowl. So if the team has clear needs at other positions along with a pair of backup quarterbacks, why draft another? And if the answer is, “Because you keep talking about quitting,” the reality is that Roethlisbeger’s retirement rumblings came from being fed up with former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The moment Haley left, Roethlisberger started talking about playing at least three more years. The Steelers presumably understand the connection between Ben thinking about walking away and making Haley run, but they nevertheless used a third-round pick on another potential replacement.
Third, Roethlisberger could have created an even bigger issue by making noise about his contract, but he didn’t. His interview with 93.7 The Fan came a day after the Falcons gave quarterback Matt Ryan a deal worth $30 million per year in new money. Roethlisberger currently averages $21.85 million annually. For the same reasons that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($22 million) and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ($21.9 million) should feel underpaid, Roethlisberger should, too. But Roethlisberger expressed no concern or discontent of any kind about a contract that now puts him much farther from the top of the market than his performance would merit.
So, basically, after having some more time to think this thing through (the video from Monday’s PFT Live is attached), Ben’s comments while still not the most brilliant thing he’s ever done actually make some sense. And his words definitely strip away any sense of mystery and confusion like what Tom Brady has brought to the Patriots, with a nagging sense that something is wrong and a chronic failure to say what it is.