While his agent has recently refuted the initial report, there have been rumblings recently that long time Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sufficiently upset enough with the direction his team is going that he plans on asking the team to explore trade options for him in 2014. Naturally, this started the question amongst Vikings fans: should Minnesota be one of the teams that enters into such trade talks?
Of course, at first blush, the answer is far too complicated to answer with a simple "yes" or "no". The obvious catch would be what the trade would entail. A high draft pick? A quality player on our roster? (We have, I think, like 3 of those.) Before we even start to look at that, let's review what (in theory) the Vikings would get for such a trade.
Big Ben is 31 years old (and will be 32 when the 2014 season starts), so while he's definitely on the tail end of his career he's also got a few years left in him. The somewhat arbitrary "end of a quarterback's starting career" mark could be set somewhere between ages 35-40, depending on the QB. So one could argue that he has at least 2-3 good years left in the tank. So you're not building a future around the guy, but in theory you could make one solid push for the big time with him on your team, and not just the one-and-done we saw with Brett Favre.
In terms of quality, assuming again that Roethlisberger does maintain his current level for 2-3 more years, we would be getting a solid quarterback with a fairly impressive resume. The first and obvious is the fact that he has 2 Super Bowl rings (and appeared in a third... I forgot what happened though), but while he had fairly impressive performances I think we can all agree that the Steelers D is what won the day. He also has 2 Pro Bowl appearances, with the last being in 2011. In terms of QB rating, he has a career average currently of 92.4, with his worst rating in 2006 (75.4) and his best (104.1) in 2007 (his first Pro Bowl appearance). Currently he is rocking a 88.5, although last year he did have a respectable 97. His career completion percentage of 63.2, which he is actually surpassing this year at 64.9 (last year was 63.3). His INT percentage career-wise is relatively low at 2.9, which also just so happens to be where he sits at of this writing (last year was 1.8). I'm going to ignore the somewhat high sack rate because the guy hasn't had a line for a while... although admittedly, that's not exactly an issue that would apparently disappear if he were to join the Vikings. In terms of being a QB who could actually get the ball past the line of scrimmage, his career average pass length is 7.9 yards, which he has floated right around for the past few years. (As an aside all this is being written at 1:36pm EST, these numbers are obviously going to change slightly after today's game.)
So what does all this tell us? Again, assuming there isn't a major change in the next few years, Roethlisberger would be a quarterback who could do some good things for us, but isn't exactly going to be the second coming of Brett Favre. Roethlisberger has been the prototypical "good quarterback who can win you some games, won't cost you very many, but can't do it alone" guy. The Steelers were once renowned as a powerful DEF team with a solid running game- we have half that equation in spades, but, uh... yeah. Not so much on the powerhouse DEF part. It's likely Roethlisberger would have pretty good success with our WR corps, something that I still personally consider a strength on this team. And he would be a great counterpart to Adrian Peterson- again, much of his career has been built around punishing defenses for focusing too heavily on run games. And he has also shown a knack (admittedly, more in the beginning of his career) for being a guy you could count on in crunch time, someone who could in the final minutes throw a team on his back and lead a victorious final hustle for the end zone.
So in terms of solving the quarterback situation temporarily, you could have a very good get here for the Vikings. Look, you can complain about the DEF all you want, but NO QB is going to fix that. We could magically put Peyton Manning behind center for us... and our DEF will still suck. Obviously, that's a separate issue that the team needs to address- but we still have such a three-ring circus throwing the ball that it can't be just forgotten.
But is all that good enough? Again, in theory, it does all come back to "what would the Steelers want". Keep in mind that since Roethlisberger would be a good get for us, that means we won't get him cheap. We could all sit around and say "well if they'd take a 7th rounder and a bottle of Coke Zero, then we'd be fools to not accept", but we also all know that's not happening. A first rounder? Sorry, that's beyond ludicrous. You don't pass on the chance to draft a guy that could be our franchise leader for 10+ years for a guy who MIGHT get you to the big time once in 2-3 years. Even a second rounder would bother me, to be honest. Again, we can't forget that this team isn't the 2008-2009 model, where we just needed a QB. We need a LOT more. This team has been aggressive in the early rounds trying to get instant playmakers (who then, apparently, sit on the bench), and our hands down best player on DEF Harrison Smith was a guy we got in part leveraging a second rounder and change to move back up. We need to restock our secondary and LB corps BADLY, and we can't do that in just FA. (A nose tackle would be nice too, by the way.) A 3rd rounder might be something we could consider, but would the Steelers accept that? It seems like a pittance for Roethlisberger.
And to the whole "throw in a quality player"... um, if they are a quality player on this team, then we NEED them. We aren't exactly so stacked at any position we could give someone up. And we don't have a Percy Harvin on the team demanding to be traded, either. So that's pretty much right out.
Probably the best bet, and even still this might not be a terribly likely scenario for the Steelers to accept, would be a 3rd this year and a 2nd next (with probably an additional mid-round conditional pick in 2015). I still wouldn't be a huge fan of that because this team is obviously in need of more than just one draft to turn things around, but considering it could solve the QB issue for a few years maybe- maybe- I would consider it.
But let's look too at the fact that Roethlisberger is going to essentially be a place-holder for us. I don't care if we get him or not: if we don't draft a QB this year, I'm leading the pitchfork-and-torch mob straight to Rick Spielman's house. And we can't just say "well we'll just draft Jameis Winston next year!" because a.) it appears we'd need the first overall pick to get that and, if Roethlisberger is actually worth a trade, then we won't have that; b.) you can't actually assume Winston will continue his success (look, LOTS of QBs go from sensations one year and then duds the next- Matt Barkley case in point); and c.) you don't actually know that Winston would even declare at this point. So, this is the year we're drafting the (hopefully) QBOTF, and that's that. So this means if we get Roethlisberger, we'd have him holding down the spot right up until the new guy proves he can take over. A big question is how would Roethlisberger react to that situation? Likely he would be somewhat cognizant of the situation if he came here, but that doesn't mean he's someone you want in it. Would he be a good mentor? Would he be someone who graciously steps aside when the day comes? I feel like the answer is no. Mayyyybe it's because of the whole "rape" thing, but something about Roethlisberger really doesn't strike me as "he's a great guy!". I'm not saying he's not a team player but this is still someone who- again, reportedly- is so unhappy with the team that drafted him, has been a part of his life for over a decade, and has won 2 Super Bowls with him that he now wants to bolt. And maybe that's fair overall but something about it all just says to me that it means that this may not be a guy you want in front of your future quarterback.
In theory, Roethlisberger could help right the ship for the next few years, give Adrian Peterson his chance while he still has it, let the new guy develop. But we'd also be sitting at the point where we've lost chances to rebuild the DEF in exchange for a placeholder- albeit, a good placeholder- and that could set us back too. If we could find an Andrew Luck or a Russel Wilson in the draft, then we could focus on restocking the DEF and be a contender just as easily in a year or two. That, of course, is a simple truism that holds for basically every NFL team, even the Jaguars and the Buccaneers: it takes just one very good draft class and a savvy FA move or two to become instant competitors again. (Just look at the Kansas City Chiefs. Who... admittedly... did turn things around in large part not through a drafted QB.)
Overall the situation is tempting to consider, but at the end of the day when looking at the entire picture I am left saying "pass". Since again this is a complex question I'm going to avoid the simple poll, but sound off Daily Norseman faithful. Would you pick up Ben Roethlisberger if he hit the trade circuit? And if so, what would you give up for him?