NFL insider notes: Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger in sport of rooster and why there’s just one 2021 choice for QB


It definitely seems {that a} high-stakes sport of rooster is looming between the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. Surprise who flinches first?

So far the perimeters are doing the dance via the media, in remarks from possession and coach Mike Tomlin and, most lately, basic supervisor Kevin Colbert in regards to the scenario between the staff and its Corridor of Fame quarterback. Roethlisberger has despatched phrase via the media as effectively about being open to remodeling his deal, however, um, issues get just a little extra nebulous in terms of the precise matter of the $19M left on his contract and what his precise market worth could be.

Massive Ben, you see, is not searching for a increase … And, frankly, how might he be given the way in which his 2020 season collapsed within the second half? Common readers of this house know my emotions on the quarterback – he is without doubt one of the key figures within the historical past of this iconic franchise, however his days as a high-functioning QB are lengthy over, his bodily limitations are acute and I might be shifting on from him, consuming that $24M cap hit and displaying a willingness to take a step again in 2021 – with severe wage cap and roster points afoot – with the intention to reshape the group for the longer term, beginning with eventual extensions for T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

It stays to be seen what the Rooneys consider Roethlisberger, though the way in which issues have performed out to this point would make anybody assume they’ve reservations about doling out one other $19M his means. As a result of in the event that they did not, a easy contract restructuring would have already gone down, the tone of the messaging from staff officers could be a lot completely different and there could be a simpatico sound emanating from all concerned.

Ben is our man. He has a contract. We’ll decrease the cap quantity. Nothing to see right here.

However, um, in comparison with the myriad different instances this staff has been on this cap crunch with this explicit participant, issues are positively completely different this time round. The movie over the past two months of the season informed a sordid story – one which membership officers appeared reticent to embrace in the course of the warmth of their playoff push, however one that appears even worse within the lifeless of winter. Harsh selections are required throughout for a staff that went three months flirting with greatness and an undefeated season earlier than getting outclassed most each week, usually by groups the likes of which they usually rapidly eliminate.

And the truth that now, deep in February, all of the communication is being finished via the media, and never instantly between these events, tells me that a few of what must be mentioned can be uncomfortable, awkward, in contrast to something these events have been via with each other earlier than. Nobody appears to be relishing it, and it definitely goes far past merely changing a piece of base wage into yet one more signing bonus. Thus far I am informed nobody has distinct marching orders from possession about exactly proceed. However that have to be coming, and coming shortly.

Will they ask Roethlisberger to depart tens of millions on the desk to return, reducing his cap and money and including voidable years as effectively to additional the cap financial savings? Exhausting to learn the scenario thus far and never anticipate that as an actual chance. Would Roethlisberger be open to it? May this get sideways?

I’ve a troublesome time believing that – going into his age-39 season and years faraway from enjoying at a sustained excessive stage – Roethlisberger would have a marketplace for something near $19M subsequent 12 months. The cap is flat at greatest, quarterback choices abound – two vital trades for QBs have already been accomplished – at the very least 4 extra can be chosen within the first spherical this spring and choices abound in free company as effectively.

Bruce Arians loves Massive Ben, however does not want one other 40-something QB. The Panthers are determined for a QB improve and proprietor David Tepper noticed Ben at his greatest from his time as a minority proprietor of the Steelers – but when the Rooneys are blanching at this price ticket, no means Tepper sees Roethlisberger as an answer for his QB drawback. The 49ers are sniffing round to improve from Jimmy Garoppolo, however Ben is not a match there.

The Saints are ready for Drew Brees to retire, however transitioning to a different QB nearing the tip just isn’t the place Sean Payton’s thoughts is. The Bears do not have a starter … however are caught with Nick Foles. The Dolphins had a 38 12 months previous round there final 12 months in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and if you wish to make the case for them and Massive Ben then I suppose you could possibly, however it’s difficult developing with a pure match the place he might enhance a staff with some significant hopes of competing.

Which brings us again to Pittsburgh. The one place I might see him enjoying in 2021. If they’ll type via the contract, a course of nobody appears to be all that enthused about.

Deciphering the (fake) Fields drama

Put together to listen to rather a lot about Justin Fields and all of his limitations and issues studying the sector and going via progressions.

It is already a outstanding speaking level within the scouting neighborhood, and already a number of basic managers I’ve spoken to marvel if it is not a marketing campaign being orchestrated by groups hoping to create a situation the place he will get out of the highest three choices, possibly even past that. You may’t discuss to anybody about this quarterback draft class with out the dialog rapidly turning to Fields and the place he suits in.

“Are folks actually that down on this child?” requested one GM who may be very severe about taking a QB. “I do not know what to make of it. He had a sport he would need again. Is that some form of a sin now? I am not shopping for it.”

One other GM posed a wise query to me about Fields. “As an example Trevor Lawrence wasn’t on this draft. He is staying in class. No matter. So who’s the primary decide within the draft? Who does City Meyer take? Justin Fields.”


The Ohio State quarterback could be the highest decide within the draft. In the long run, I see him going as excessive as anticipated, however with loads of (fake) drama between from time to time. Kinda just like the Tua Tagovailoa factor from final 12 months yet again. As a result of what would a draft be with out this rubbish? Possibly the Jets public sale off that second decide and Fields goes there. Or possibly Miami does the identical factor at 3. I do not see a situation the place some groups selecting within the teenagers who love the child really get an opportunity to nab him, however I think that is one thing I get requested about 500 instances between now and late April.

Extra insider notes

  • Will the Broncos be capable of discover a technique to decide up Von Miller‘s choice as a way to buying and selling him? Would appear to take advantage of sense to me, albeit clouded by the uncertainty of his potential authorized points and accidents. With little cross rush out there and that choice not loopy by present requirements, I determine there’s a marketplace for him if Denver chooses to go that route … 
  • All of the deal with Baltimore’s efforts to commerce deal with Orlando Brown, Jr. has obscured some from one other urgent matter on its offensive line. Left guard Bradley Bozeman carried out at a really excessive stage final season, handing over a few of the greatest grades of any Ravens lineman and getting excessive marks from the likes of PFF. His capability to drag and block downfield in addition to cross shield make him exceedingly helpful, particularly because the Ravens look to fill different holes on that line. In addition they badly want a middle – Bozeman performed middle at Alabama and the coaches have mentioned a place swap with him at instances – and tying up Bozeman long-term will look even higher when the cap begins leaping once more. He and his spouse, Nikki, have additionally grow to be fixtures in the neighborhood with their tireless charity work, together with a Walter Payton Man of the Yr nomination. An extension needs to be a precedence … 
  • Would not count on groups working out to tag franchise gamers on Thursday when the window opens. A lot uncertainty in regards to the cap, and with two weeks to use the tag, I might anticipate even much less preliminary urgency than standard.



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