I’ve seen a lot of chatter lately about the possibility of hitting the reset button this off-season, and trading Ben Roethlisberger. At this point, it’s all just been speculation, and there’s been nothing from the Steelers that would suggest that is going to happen. I can’t place any sort of odds of that happening, because who knows at this point, but I can discuss why this would or wouldn’t be a good idea.
First, I’ll give my one thought that would support trading the franchise cornerstone. That is, our draft position in the 2014 draft.
I’ve argued this point with a lot of football minds, and plenty disagree with me, but I think to find a quarterback that can carry you to a Championship, you have to roll the dice in the first round, and probably high in the first round. There are exceptions to every rule, like Tom Brady (6th round) and Drew Brees (last pick of the 2nd round).
You can argue for finding a Kaepernick or Russel Wilson, but 5 of the 7 active quarterbacks with a championship ring were drafted in round 1 (Flacco, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, and Big Ben).
There’s several very talented signal callers at the top of the draft this year. Teddy Bridgewater looks NFL ready. Marcus Mariota has the physical tools to be a star in the NFL. Brett Hundley, Tahj Boyd, and Johnny Football are in the conversation as well.
The Steelers struggled for years under Bill Cowher to get over the hump, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence it finally happened when he got his quarterback. The Steelers had to finish 6-10 to draft high enough get a signal caller of Ben’s caliber, and I’d say that quarterbacks are valued even more than they were when Ben was drafted. If Eli, Rivers, and Ben were rookies in 2014 I think they might go 1, 2, 3. So if there’s a reason to draft a quarterback, it’s because we’re in the rare position to get an elite one.
I have no problem with listening to offers. Part of me thinks Bruce Arians would lose his mind if he thought Ben was available, and offer several years worth of draft picks. Carson Palmer fetched a first and conditional second rounder without ever winning a playoff game (and was about the same age as Ben is now). There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone.
Now, let’s snap back to reality. Big Ben is still only 31 years old. Everyone likes to talk about how much Ben gets hit, and it is a lot, but let me ask you something. Does anyone think that Ben looks to be moving around the pocket any slower than he did his rookie season? Has he lost any zip on his passes? I don’t think he has.
People like to talk about how Ben can’t change his game. How do we know? He’s never had the opportunity to become a pocket passer, but I think he could be. He throws a great ball. If he had time to drop back I think he could pick defenses apart the same way Rodgers or Brady do. Call me crazy, but I think this offensive line could still be very solid. They need a left tackle, which is the most important piece… but a top 8 pick is the perfect spot to get one!
Imagine Taylor Lewan, Pouncey, Velasco, Decastro, Adams/Gilbert/Beachem across the line. I’m speculating a lot on Pouncey moving, and extending Velasco but that line looks pretty solid doesn’t it? Instead of trying to ship Ben out of town, concentrate on taking care of him for the rest of his career. If you do, he might play another 8 years!
The hardest thing to find in the NFL is a franchise quarterback. Finding a good wide receiver, cornerback, lineman? That’s easy in comparison to filling the QB spot.
Trading Ben for a boatload of picks and having a shiny new, young, quarterback sounds great right? Guess what… Brandon Weeden, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Jimmy Claussen, Mark Sanchez, Jamarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, Vince Young were all once shiny young quarterbacks that were going to lead their teams to greatness.
If Steeler nation thinks we’re in bad shape now, imagine how bad off we’d be with Chistian Ponder as our starting quarterback, because drafting a Ponder is statistically much more likely than drafting a Ben Roethlisberger.