Twenty four hours ago the thought of the Steelers considering a Ben Roethlisberger  trade would have been unthinkable.  But after the comments made yesterday by general manager Kevin Colbert, that possibility got a whole lot more likely.  https://www.nfl.com/news/steelers-gm-kevin-colbert-ben-roethlisberger-noncommittal-future

Reading between the lines here, it looks as if the Steelers have decided it is time to move on from their franchise quarterback.  The team would undoubtedly prefer that Ben Roethlisberger retire in order to keep this from becoming messy.  Everything we have heard thus far from Big Ben is that he intends to play out the final year of his contract however.

Pittsburgh always has the option of cutting Roethlisberger.  He would then be free to sign with whoever he wished as a free agent.  The catch in this scenario is that Ben would never be able to recoup that $19 million on the open market.  No team is going to pay that kind of money to a 39 year old quarterback coming off a sub par season.  If the Steelers could find a trade partner however, his contract would remain intact to that team.  The club gets the added benefit of getting some compensation for losing Roethlisberger.  If the Steelers are truly ready to move on, this would be in the best interest of both parties.  Let’s take a look at what teams might have interest in Ben Roethlisberger , and what Kevin Colbert could get in return:

Team: The Washington Football Team

Washington has all the pieces in place to make a playoff run in 2021 except for the most important…..quarterback.  They did just sign Taylor Heinicke two year extension, but he is more of a serviceable backup than anything else.  You would have to believe Washington would be interested in a veteran like Roethlisberger to help their young offense take flight.

Compensation:

Tight end Logan Thomas should be the target for the Steelers here.  Pittsburgh has a dire need at that position, and Thomas is an up and coming player that would fit the bill nicely.  The 6’6”, 250 lbs tight end had 72 receptions in his breakout 2020 season. Thomas is a former quarterback who has transitioned nicely into a solid tight end prospect.

Team: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos have been down this road before, and quite successfully at that.  They managed to squeeze one more respectable season out of the broken down Peyton Manning on route to winning a Super Bowl in 2016.  They still have an above average defense, and some impressive weapons on offense.  This has to be a tempting proposition for Broncos president John Elway.  He has never been shy about changing quarterbacks in Denver.

Compensation:

The Steelers would probably hold out for a third round pick if no player were to be included.  The Broncos have been rumored to be willing to include Drew Lock in a trade.  He is an intriguing player who has struggled early on in his career.  Lock and a fourth round pick, or just a third rounder seem reasonable as a return for Ben Roethlisberger here.

Team: Chicago Bears

All indications are the Chicago Bears are in the market for a veteran quarterback.  There have been several rumors linking them with the Eagles in a Carson Wentz deal.  If that were to fall through, the Bears might be interested in setting their sights a little lower.  This is another team that feels they are just a quarterback away from making a playoff run.  A Roethlisberger trade might be on their radar if things fall right for the Steelers.

Compensation:

This is a situation where it will benefit the Steelers to be patient.  If the Bears lose out in the Carson Wentz sweepstakes, they easily could become desperate.  The coach and general manger combo in Chicago are under pressure to produce after years of uninspiring football.  Kevin Colbert could squeeze a second round pick out of the Bears if he times this right.  Tight end Cole Kmet and a pick would be an intriguing option as well.

Team: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts tried this last season with Philip Rivers, so why not try it again with another member of the 2004 draft class?  Of all the teams we have mentioned so far, Indianapolis has the best roster by far.  This could come down to whichever team between them and Chicago doesn’t get Wentz, then turns to the Steelers to inquire about Roehtlisberger. 

Compensation:

The Colts are loaded with running backs, and the Steelers would love to pry Jonathan Taylor away from the Colts in a deal.  It’s more likely the Steelers could get tight end Jack Doyle, or running back Marlon Mack in return.  A third round pick would also be in play for a Ben Roethlisberger trade.

Conclusion:

The Steelers have been giving us clues all off-season that they are finally ready to move on from their future Hall of Fame Quarterback.  It started wit the hiring of Matt Canada who’s offensive system is not at all conducive to the style of Big Ben.  Then the noncommittal comments from Art Rooney and Kevin Colbert on the future of Roethlisberger has us convinced a change is coming.

That change makes the most sense in the form of a Ben Roethlisberger trade.  Both parties win in a trade scenario. The Steelers get cap relief, and a chance to get younger at quarterback.  While Ben gets to continue playing, and keeps his current contract.  This would also avoid a messy breakup like the Troy Polamalu situation a few years ago.  Everybody wins, and there is no messy breakup.

Side note:  if you’re worried about who will play quarterback for the Steelers if this all plays out, check out our post on the available quarterbacks this off-season here:The time is now for a change at Steelers quarterback position