The idea of trading Roethlisberger has gained a lot of steam with the NFL draft just one day away. When asked about it on a conference call Wednesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II avoided the topic.
"We really can't answer any questions about trades, particularly this time of year," Rooney said. "We go into every draft with the idea we’re going to do anything we can to make our team a better football team. So we just have to stick with that and not discuss trades in advance."
How realistic the possibility of shipping Roethlisberger out of Pittsburgh remains a subject of debate. Some teams like Buffalo and St. Louis have reportedly dropped out of the running. ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando doesn't feel the 49ers or Seahawks are good fits, either.
For a vast majority of teams, there is too much baggage that comes with acquiring Roethlisberger. For starters, he's about to serve a suspension for up to six games. Second, Roethlisberger is still under contract for the $102 million deal he signed in 2008. And third, he has yet to prove he can stay out of trouble.
On top of that, we haven't even discussed the public relations hit for any team willing to make a quarterback with two sexual assault allegations in less than a year the new face of its franchise.
It's not likely Pittsburgh can get a top-10 pick under those circumstances. That's an extremely tough sell unless the Steelers are willing to significantly lower their expectations. In that case AFC West blogger Bill Williamson believes Oakland might be an option. Tim Graham in the AFC East also feels Buffalo is a possibility if the team is willing to base a trade strictly on football ability. Bills GM Buddy Nix denies talking to the Steelers.
But the chances of any team ignoring Roethlisberger's off-the-field problems to trade a high draft pick are slim. That's the only reason Pittsburgh reportedly is shopping him in the first place.
If the Steelers were completely fed up with Roethlisberger's antics, they could sell him at all cost -- pennies on the dollar -- like they did with former receiver Santonio Holmes. Pittsburgh acquired just a fifth-round pick from the New York Jets for Holmes in an effort to get the wide receiver out of town as quickly as possible.
Yet it's doubtful the Steelers will take the same approach with Roethlisberger. Elite quarterbacks don't grow on trees, especially ones with two Super Bowl rings, and Pittsburgh wouldn't part with that unless it feels it can get equal value.