WHAT IF: STEELERS TRADED BIG BEN

18 Mar

Posted by Tyler Dunn, March 18th 2012, 10:54 am EST

(Please note: this piece is a ‘what if’ – we are not suggesting or reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers should or will be trading, shopping or considering making a change at the quarterback position in regards to Ben Roethlisberger.)

The Washington Redskins just traded away major assets for the rights to draft Robert Griffin.

D.C. gave the St. Louis Rams three first round draft selections and a second round selection. That’s a first & second round pick this year and the Skins’ first round picks for the next two seasons.

Quite a haul to give up for a pick which will presumably be used on a quarterback who has never played a down in the pros.

We like Griffin, and think he will be a great fit in Washington. But if a quarterback of his proposed caliber is worth that much, what is a player like Ben Roethlisberger worth?

Big Ben is 30. He has won two Super Bowls and led his team to a third. He has been a relative leader in most statistical passing categories for the majority of his career. And the stat he leads in the most, wins, is by far the most important.He has proven time and time again that he is a clutch player. A tough leader who cares more about the win column than his own statistical glory.

The champion quarterback should draw a hefty price, right?

Maybe.

As we mentioned, Ben just turned 30. That’s not old – but is old enough to question whether or not he is past his prime. Should teams trade away the future for a player who is that old? Probably not. But as we see happening currently in free agency – teams are willing to give up just about anything to sign a franchise quarterback. Half the league has been falling over themselves to acquire Peyton Manning.

And Roethlisberger is every bit the quarterback Manning is.

That said, we’ve decided our appraised value for Ben will be three firsts and a quality player.

Let’s pretend for a few minutes, that the Steelers would trade Roethlisberger within the division. And let’s pretend that Mike Holmgren just dialed up Kevin Colbert and offered him a rather large package for Ben (pun intended).

The Browns are willing to send their two first round picks from this April’s upcoming draft, their 2013 first rounder and defensive linemen Phil Taylor.

Pretty intriguing offer. It would certainly improve the roster immediately.

So Colbert pulls the trigger. Ben is in brown next season.

The Steelers immediately get to work on turning what they just acquired into players. They draft Morris Claiborne, Cordy Glenn and Dont’a Hightower in the first round and Amini Silatolu in the second. Add to that Phil Taylor at nose tackle and wow. Look what you just did to your roster.

You have turned the offensive line from a weakness to a strength, added a stud corner to play across from Ike Taylor, filled the void at linebacker with an amazing prospect and added your nose tackle for the next eight years.

Add all of this to the considerable talent you already have – and you just created the best roster in the league.

Except, at quarterback…

Who is going to start there? Byron Leftwich? Charlie Batch? Do you re-sign Dennis Dixon to a long term deal? I don’t know if you believe in any of those guys enough. Does Troy Smith or Jerrod Johnson take the reigns?

The position is more than a little questionable.

For our purposes, we’ll say we go with Leftwich.

Silatolu starts at left guard immediately, Willie Colon moves to right guard and Cordy Glenn takes over at right tackle.The offensive game-plan becomes: give the ball to Isaac Redman. Give the ball to Isaac Redman. Play action pass – hit Mike Wallace deep.

Not too bad actually.

And the defense becomes something like no one has seen before. One of the best in history, on paper. An above average starter at every single position on the field.

But do you lose too much? Does Roethlisberger bring so much to the table that it’s not worth it? Even for the mentioned gains?

We don’t know. The strength of the roster would be unprecedented at every position but quarterback.

In the end, despite nearly being seduced by our own argument, we’d keep Roethlisberger. It’s just too hard to find a franchise quarterback. Teams go decades searching for one and come up empty handed time and time again.

But it’s certainly interesting to imagine what this team could do if they acquired value similar to what the Redskins just traded for Griffin.

The roster we came up with is still blowing our minds.

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