Just hours before the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon, NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger “isn’t happy” with the Steelers’ current situation, especially regarding the coaching staff.
That wasn’t terribly surprising, considering the Steelers are just 3-6 even after dispatching Buffalo 23-10 at Heinz Field. It would take a near miracle for Pittsburgh to dig out of its early-season hole and return to the playoffs. Even the modest goal of matching last season’s 8-8 record would require a 5-2 sprint to the finish.
But what Rapoport reported next was at least a little unsettling for most Steelers fans:
#Steelers sources expect Big Ben to ask them to explore trade options after 2013. They fielded offers for him last offseason. Could again
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2013
The fact that people in the Steelers’ front office anticipate Roethliberger will request a trade isn’t earth-shattering, but it is sobering for those who think the franchise can reboot with Big Ben still on the roster. If the 31-year-old franchise quarterback isn’t fully on board with current leadership, maybe it’s time for a significant overhaul.
Team president Art Rooney II issued a statement during the game against Buffalo, saying the Steelers “have not explored trading (Roethlisberger) and have no plans to do so.” Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner tweeted that his client is “100 percent committed to winning more championships with the Steelers.”
As for the man of the hour himself, Roethlisberger responded angrily to NFL Network’s report, which Rapoport stands by. Big Ben told the assembled media members following Sunday’s game that the story was “made up” and “totally false.”
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic, among others, Roethlisberger said he didn’t know the origin of the report and that “this is home” in reference to Pittsburgh. Check out Kovacevic’s Twitter timeline for more.
So, what are we to make of this? Rapoport is a longtime credible NFL reporter and it makes sense that Roethlisberger would a) be upset with the state of the team and b) deny the story once it became public. Roethlisberger has rarely expressed any dissatisfaction with the Steelers in his 10 seasons with the team, but he could be sensing his prime running short and the franchise’s lack of a cohesive plan to rebuild.
One thing’s for sure, with seven weeks left to go in the 2013 season, we likely haven’t heard the end of this subject.