UPDATE: Shortly after the Steelers beat the Bills Sunday afternoon, Ben Roethlisberger called the report that he will ask for an offseason trade "completely unacceptable" and "one of the most B.S. stories I ever heard."
The Steelers are 2-6 and things could get worse before they get better. The defense is suddenly in shambles, the salary cap situation is dire not only in 2014 but beyond, and franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a beating this season, even by Big Ben standards.
Not surprisingly, Roethlisberger is frustrated. It starts with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who will likely be fired after the season, but it extends to other coaches as well, reports NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
What is surprising, however, is that Big Ben could also want out of Pittsburgh.
"Steelers sources tell me to expect Roethlisberger to ask [the organization] in the offseason to explore possible trade options," Rapoport said Sunday morning. "The Steelers did field trade offers for Big Ben last offseason, they're expected to do so again this offseason. I asked a Steelers source would they actually trade their franchise quarterback and the response I got was 'No, unless we could replace him with a franchise quarterback.'"
But Ryan Tollner, who representes Roethlisberger, disputes Rapoport's report.
"Ian Rapoport's apparent sources seem to be guessing what Ben feels about the Steelers and being traded," Tollner said Sunday. "This is completely wrong and inaccurate. Ben has always said he wants to play his entire career for the Steelers, and his roots are set firmly in Pittsburgh. He has a lot left in the tank and is 100 percent committed to winning more championships with the Steelers."
There's also Roethlisberger's contract, which runs through the 2015 season. His cap hit is $17.9 million in '14 and $17.4 million the following year. And if he were traded in the offseason the Steelers would eat more than $11 million in dead money, a huge deterent for an already cap-strapped organizaiton.
Meanwhile, NFL Network's Mike Silver reports that Big Ben wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, adding: "However, if it does come to the point where the team wants to trade him, keep an eye on the Arizona Cardinals."
Bruce Arians, the head coach in Arizona, was Roethlisberger's coordinator with the Steelers. Not only did they win two Super Bowls together, they're good friends.
We wrote earlier this season that the Giants should consider trading Eli Manning if they truly do believe they're in rebuilding mode. That same logic holds for the Steelers. If Pittsburgh's front office doesn't think the team is one or two players away from contending but more like 15-20, then a trade could make sense.
For now, Roethlisberger is stuck with Haley, at least for two more months.