Diner morning news: Is Big Ben on the market?

QUOTE: “It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.” – Peter Ustinov

What is Ben worth?

On Thursday, Steelers owner Art Rooney Jr. held a press conference to announce that he’s seen enough of Ben Roethlisberger’s behavior off the field. Rooney was clear about his desire to suspend Big Ben but will wait for Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision after the draft. He also voiced his strong disapproval of Ben’s behavior and did not entirely rule out the possibility of trading his star quarterback.

I’m sure Rooney wishes Roethlisberger would follow Peter Ustinov’s advice in our quote of the day. What made this press conference strange was that teams usually wait for the commissioner to make a decision so that they don’t alienate the player against the team. When a suspension comes from the league, the team helps the player handle the appeal, working in concert with him. However, that’s not the case for the Steelers, who let it be known they’re not happy and want to make sure their unhappiness is reflected in some form of a suspension. The Steelers know they’re at a crossroads with Roethlisberger, they know they must clean up their locker room (create a better team environment), and they know they have a responsibility to their fan base. Most of all, they know this cleansing starts with how they handle Roethlisberger.

Rooney did not rule out trading Roethlisberger, but how could he avoid it? How could he say in one breathe, “We’re mad at Ben for his behavior,” and still call him untouchable? That won’t work, and Rooney is smart enough not to engage in inconsistent behavior. He understands he has a responsibility to the franchise, and that includes a willingness to listen to any trade offers.

How many more dumb things in the offseason are the Steelers going to put up with from Roethlisberger before saying enough is enough? Fame and fortune have not been easy for him to handle, but instead of working harder and preparing intently for each game, he takes the “I got it without the work” attitude bordering on arrogance. As a result, he makes mistakes in games that cause his teammates and coaches to pull their hair out. His lack of responsibility on and off the field might be a result of his inability to handle success, or it might be Roethlisberger’s true personality.

So what is Big Ben worth in the open market? Clearly, this would be a short sale since any team wanting to take on Roethlisberger and his problems would not be willing to pay the “Cutler” rate (roughly two No. 1s) for a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Would the Steelers take the recent Donovan McNabb/Redskins deal for Roethlisberger? I doubt it; the Steelers are angry, but they’re not stupid. Roethlisberger is hard to trade right now, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t listen to any offers. Would the Bills call and offer the ninth pick overall? Would the Raiders offer eight? It seems to me that if a team in need a quarterback wants to deal with Big Ben’s problems, it should put an offer on the table just enticing enough to gauge the Steelers’ level of interest. Based on Mr. Rooney’s body language, I wouldn’t rule out a trade. My sense is that some teams will be calling.

More Marshall, more Broncos

After spending time with Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels yesterday, I’m further convinced he’ll produce an eventual Super Bowl winner for the city of Denver. As I wrote the other day, this decision to trade Marshall was an organizational decision because the Broncos were never going to spend the money needed to keep Marshall, given all his off-the-field problems.

Miami paid dearly — both in the contract for Marshall (most NFL executives think the Dolphins significantly overpaid — $13.25 million per for two additional years is QB money, which is going to make it tough for the Chargers to re-sign Vincent Jackson) and two No. 2s. McDaniels played this one perfectly, getting value for Marshall. Now he must cash in with his selections.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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