Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggested on Sunday that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be open to a trade after this season. Rapoport suggested that there are more issues for Roethlisberger than just a suggested rift with offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Steeerls are struggling on both sides of the football this season and while Ben Roethlisberger dismissed the rumors after his game, trading him makes sense for both the Steelers and their potential trade partner, the Arizona Cardinals.
Since posting a 12-4 record and reaching the playoffs, the Steelers have been on a downward spiral. They missed the post-season in 2012 with an 8-8 record and have managed just three wins so far this season. Offensive line issues continue. The team struggled to run the ball before LeVeon Bell was able to get onto the field. The opportunistic defensive the Steelers have been known for has been missing. The team is -11 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio. Pittsburgh ranks 29th in run defense.
There is no doubt that the Steelers need some wholesale changes on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh has just 16 sacks on the season, LaMarr Woodley leads the team with five. The offensive line continues to be a problem. Yes, there have been injuries, but in the last few seasons, Roethlisberger is getting hit too much and he’s been sacked 35 times already this season.
Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and yes, he is a franchise quarterback. However, he is signed for just two more seasons and at 32 years of age, the Steelers could land a king’s ransom of draft picks in exchange for him. Re-signing him in 2015 will bring a big hit to the Steelers salary cap when he will be 34.
As of know, the Steelers will have no lower that a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. This year’s draft class appears to be deep at the quarterback position. With the new CBA in place, teams aren’t financially hamstrung by selecting a top 10 player and moving Roethlisberger, while accumulating draft picks from the Cardinals would not only free up salary cap space, but it would allow the Steelers to start adding key pieces for a needed rebuilding.
The Steelers could ask for two first-round picks and perhaps more.
For the Cardinals, the move makes sense as well. Arizona will likely not have the firepower to move into the top of the draft to draft a quarterback next season. Carson Palmer is under contract through 2015. While he is an upgrade of the parade of quarterbacks the team trotted out last season, he’s not a long term answer. Palmer is the only quarterback in the league to throw an interception in nine straight games, the longest streak in the NFL.
Defensively, the Cardinals have 20 takeaways, but Palmer has thrown 15 picks.
Arizona has a very solid defense but need an upgrade at quarterback. Head coach Bruce Arians coached Roethlisberger for years in Pittsburgh and the pair know each other very well. Roethlisberger’s effectiveness has decreased since Arians left Pittsburgh. WR Larry Fitzgerald would finally have a legitimate quarterback since Kurt Warner retired. If the Cardinals want to seriously challenge the Niners and Seahawks, they need a quarterback upgrade.
Of course Roethlisberger came out and denied the rumors, I couldn’t imagine that he’d be the kind of player that would start dissension in the locker room in the middle of a season, even in a disappointing season.
Steelers fans might not be open to such a move, but from a business standpoint, it does make sense for both clubs.