At the time, I dismissed the talk as Ian just trying to grab some headlines and take advantage of the rocky situation the Steelers team was in at the time. At the time, Ben said he would retire before accepting a trade.
There’s been some chatter this week that the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals are interested in trading for Big Ben.
Understand that everything I’m going to say from here on out is purely speculation, from either myself or from sources that say they’ve spoken with someone close to the Steelers.
First of all, that’s not really a rumor. The Texans, Cardinals, and about 20 other NFL teams would be interested if Ben was available. The question is, is he available?
The conspiracy theorists back in November said that Rapoport was being fed information from someone within the Steelers organization, and even though they’d deny it publicly, teams would come calling once the season was over.
If you believe that, then it certainly is starting to look like that’s the case now. Houston makes sense because they seem to be a QB away from a dangerous playoff team and new coach Bill O’Brien supposedly likes the big bodied, strong armed Quarterbacks. The Arians-Ben connection in Arizona is obvious.
I’ve been told that the reasoning for wanting to trade Ben was that his agent knows this is his last chance at a big contract, and with the recent contracts that Flacco, Ryan, and Cutler received, Ben is ready to cash-in.
I’ve also been told that the Rooney family still has some hard feelings over Ben’s past “lapses in judgement” off the field.
So there you have the information that’s going around. Now, I’ll tell you why I think there are some holes there.
Trading away Ben is a huge statement. It’s saying, this team is officially rebuilding.
Rebuild has been a dirty word in the Steelers organization. I thought that this past season, and possibly the one before it were rebuilding years, but if you asked Kevin Colbert, he scoffs at it.
If this team had looked all year like it did in the first 4 games, then I’d maybe say, let’s blow it up and start over…
But the team that finished the season looked like a playoff caliber team to me. Not superbowl, but playoff.
I think that if this team grabs a #2 WR and focuses on the defense in the draft they could be right in the thick of things in the AFC next season. Would the Rooney family really want to blow that up?
Maybe this is all lip service, but everything that Ben has said points to him wanting to stay here, and not at a historically large contract. Ben said he doesn’t want traded, he loves Pittsburgh, Brady is the best because he has the most rings, he wants to win more rings that Bradshaw, he wants to retire a Steeler…
He would have to realize that signing for a deal around 22-23 million per season would cripple this roster.
It seems funny to think about now, because Ben’s career has seemingly gone so quickly… but Ben is the veteran leadership of this football team. If the Steelers trade him, they could have a problem on their hands in the locker room.
I guess to sort of summarize, there’s a lot of unknown about the situation, and none of us know what’s going on. I’m simply trying to lay everything out there for you to make your own judgement.
Personally, my gut tells me that Ben gets a contract extension and retires in Pittsburgh. If Ben does want a contract on par with the one Cutler just received, then some of those rumors get more plausible.
Look at the Packers, Falcons, Ravens, and Cowboys. All gave massive contracts to their quarterbacks and have struggled.
It’s possible the Rooneys see that trend, and have thought about trade options just to cover their bases in the event that Ben’s agents do want to play hardball.
If Ben really cares more about winning, and is willing to accept something that fits under the cap easier, then I really can’t see any argument for trading him.
Nothing any of us can do but wait and see… But I’d expect to see plenty more rumors and speculation between now and the draft in May.