Off to their worst start in seven seasons, the 2-6 Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled mightily through the first half of the NFL season, and their star quarterback may want out.
Two-time Pro Bowler Ben Roethlisberger is reportedly unhappy with the Steelers performance this year, and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport cited sources that said the 31-year-old may ask Pittsburgh to explore a trade in the offseason.
Via Twitter, Rapoport also said the Steelers received offers for Roethlisberger during the last offseason, and more could come at the conclusion of 2013.
Last season, Roethlisberger reportedly had several issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who took over for much-loved Bruce Arians. But the report says Roethlisberger’s issues extend far beyond coaching.
Rapoport only offered speculation as to where Roethlisberger could land, but said the Arizona Cardinals could be a possibility. The Cardinals are 4-4 and have a chance to make the playoffs in Arians first year as head coach, despite quarterback Carson Palmer tossing 14 interceptions, the second most in the league.
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The Steelers haven’t entertained an offer during the regular season, and Rapoport stated the team won’t move Roethlisberger unless they can replace him with another franchise quarterback like those expected to be available in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Roethlisberger also has two years remaining on his contract, and the Steelers might decide to spend money at other positions rather than the $20 million-plus cap hit a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback would take up.
According to Rapoport, the team is also expected to make several changes to the offensive coaching staff.
The Steelers are currently 25th in points per game and 23rd in total offense, and Roethlisberger is well on pace for 500-plus pass attempts for just the third time in his career. Injuries at running back and the offensive line have also dropped the Steelers to 28th in rushing, and Roethlisberger has taken 31 sacks, the second worst mark in the NFL.
The news comes a week after the Steelers were blown out 55-31 by the New England Patriots, decided by a 28-7 fourth quarter.
In 2006, Pittsburgh began the season 2-6 and finished 8-8 with a second half flurry, but missed the playoffs. This season, the Steelers are in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year, which hasn't happened during Roethlisberger's entire 10-year career.