Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big Ben on the Move?

Thanks to his own moronic and possibly illegal behavior, a two-time Super Bowl winning QB might be changing locker rooms this weekend. If Ben Roethlisberger was to be moved, which team would be the best fit? Before you get to that, just how many possible destinations are there? The NFL isn’t littered with Elways, Marinos, and Montanas, but there don’t appear to be many teams in search of a franchise passer, whether it is due to the existing talent at the position or money already committed to it.

Here are teams we can eliminate due to talent:
Indianapolis – Peyton Manning
New England – Tom Brady
New Orleans – Drew Brees
Houston – Matt Schaub
San Diego – Philip Rivers
NY Giants – Eli Manning
Dallas – Tony Romo
Cincinnati – Carson Palmer
Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers
Washington – Donovan McNabb

Here are the teams we can eliminate due to $/picks committed:
NY Jets – Mark Sanchez
Miami – Chad Henne
Baltimore – Joe Flacco
Kansas City – Matt Cassel
Philadelphia – Kevin Kolb
Chicago – Jay Cutler
Detroit – Matthew Stafford
Tampa Bay – Josh Freeman
Atlanta – Matt Ryan

That’s 19 teams right there that I think can be safely eliminated.

Of the remaining candidates here are the ones who, while they may not have fixtures at QB, I believe have situations that will prevent them from pursuing Roethlisberger.
Tennessee – Vince Young
Arizona – Matt Leinart
Seattle – Matt Hasselbeck / Charlie Whitehurst

Vince Young showed promise again last year, and I don’t see Bud Adams putting his personal favorite back on the bench. In Arizona, the Cardinals don’t seem terribly thrilled to kickoff Leinart Era II, but would they squelch it from the start by acquiring Roethlisberger? Ken Whisenhunt was the OC in Pittsburgh when Ben came on board and won his first Super Bowl, so there’s obvious familiarity. Everything I’ve seen tells me that Arizona doesn’t have interest in him, and they publicly backed Leinart and Derek Anderson (yes, that Derek Anderson) when Donovan McNabb rumors heated up. Matt Hasselbeck won’t be a Seahawk much longer. Heck, he could be dealt this weekend as well. Even so, they have put a decent commitment into Charlie Whitehurst, and acquiring someone like Roethlisberger doesn’t seem likely.

That leaves 9 teams:

Minnesota – Brett Favre
I think they’re only an option if they find out tomorrow that Favre was done with football for good. Done laughing yet? It’s silly to write anything further since we know this isn’t happening, but if Favre was out of the picture, you’d have to think that Minnesota would be interested seeing as how they have a pretty sizeable Super Bowl window right now.

Carolina – Matt Moore
They’ve gotten behind Moore who closed out the season impressively, winning 4 of the 5 games he started. Why go to plan B now?

San Francisco – Alex Smith
Yes, I believe this team would become a legit contender with Roethlisberger behind center, but this doesn’t seem like a Mike Singletary type move. I think they address QB in the draft, but I’ll get to that later.

St. Louis – AJ Feeley
Sam Bradford at #1, or a suspended Roethlisberger on thin ice for probably the #1 pick and more? I’d take Bradford, keep my other picks, and let someone else gamble on Ben.

Cleveland – Jake Delhomme / Seneca Wallace
Within the division? To Cleveland?

Can we rule out those 27 teams, at least 99.99%? If so, you’re left with Oakland, Buffalo, Denver, and Jacksonville.

Jacksonville – David Garrard
The Jaguars may need to turn the page on the Del Rio / Garrard era, but is acquiring Roethlisberger getting them anywhere? They don’t have a R2 pick this year, so dealing for Ben would likely wipe out any other ammo they need to upgrade other weak areas like the FS, MLB, WR, and DE positions.

Denver – Kyle Orton / Brady Quinn
Orton is returning as a restricted free agent at a cheap $2.6 million, and Quinn is extremely cheap over the next two years, as his guaranteed money has been paid by Cleveland. Neither one would seemingly prohibit Denver from making an upgrade. When you consider the aggressive personality of a guy like Josh McDaniels, I’ve got to think he’d be at least a bit interested in Big Ben. Sure they fizzled at the end of ’09 and yes they traded away their #1 receiver, but would/does McDaniels think Roethlisberger is the guy to get them over the hump?

Buffalo – Trent Edwards / Brian Brohm
They self-admittedly need to upgrade under center, and Ben would do that. He’d give Buffalo an identity, a face of the franchise for the first time since the Kelly-Smith-Thomas era ended. Does Ralph Wilson want to make Roethlisberger’s rehabilitation the final part of his legacy? I certainly think they would be in the running.

Oakland – Jamarcus Russell / Bruce Gradkowski
Russell has two years at over $9 million each. He’s voidable in 2012, but will anyone want that contract? Will Al eat it? Sure Jamarcus is Al’s golden boy, but doesn’t Roethlisberger look like a Raider? A bad boy with a big arm? Davis is having fantasies as I write this.

Have I mentioned Ben’s contract? Well, in addition to the suspension and risk of future lengthier ones, any team acquiring Roethlisberger will take on a player who signed an 8 year, $102 million contract two years ago. Still due on that contract are yearly totals of $8 million in 2010, $11.6 million from 2011-2014, and another $12 million in 2015. Turned off yet?

Given all that, I think that Oakland, Buffalo, and Denver are the most likely destinations. Story-wise, I’d like to see him in Oakland, but of these teams, Denver could include the best QB in return in any deal for Roethlisberger. Would Pittsburgh want Orton, or would they be satisfied going with Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, and Charlie Batch? I’m making this up here, but would Pittsburgh be intrigued by a #1, a #2, and Orton in exchange for Ben? Denver does have that Brandon Marshall R2 pick to work with and another one next year for that matter.

As a point of reference, Chicago gave up two R1 picks, a R3, and Orton in exchange for Jay Cutler. No, Cutler isn’t as accomplished as Roethlisberger, but he doesn’t have the legal/league issues that Ben does. Roethlisberger might get cheap in a hurry. With R1 picks at #11 (Denver’s) and #18, Pittsburgh could come away from Thursday with some combination of Jared Odrick, Dez Bryant, Rolando McClain, Brandon Graham, Joe Haden, Mike Iupati, CJ Spiller, Dan Williams, and Kyle Wilson.

I’m sure that dealing their knuckleheaded QB wasn’t in the initial offseason plans, but that might just be the best move for the Steeler franchise. Pittsburgh fans have voiced their displeasure in droves, and as evidenced by the Santonio Holmes trade, the Rooneys aren’t going to tolerate these distractions any longer.

Never before have I seen a player that is such a winner on the field and as equal a loser off of it.

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