FOXBORO, Mass. — So, the Steelers are reportedly shopping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a top-10 draft pick, and one of those teams in the upper-dime is interested. That?s not exactly the greatest news for the Patriots, who have already played this wait-and-see game once this offseason.
First, let?s rule out the teams that won?t be interested in the mighty English clock tower, who will be suspended for six games this season. The Rams figure to be perfectly happy drafting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick, so they don?t need Big Ben?s baggage. The Lions used their top pick on quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2009, when the Bucs also used a first-rounder on Josh Freeman.
The Redskins recently scooped up Donovan McNabb, so they?re out. And the Chiefs seem to be content with Matt Cassel ? even if they aren?t, Scott Pioli doesn?t seem like the type of guy who would covet Roethlisberger?s rampant rendezvous anyway.
Since each team in the top five is set at quarterback, let?s move down the line. The Browns, who draft seventh, couldn?t conceivably pull off a trade with the Steelers, since the divisional foes see each other twice a year. Plus, Cleveland will have a good shot at landing Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen in Thursday night?s first round.
That now leaves the Seahawks, Raiders, Bills and Jaguars. For starters, Seattle and Jacksonville have a pair of veteran signal callers in Matt Hasselbeck and David Garrard, respectively. Those guys aren?t exactly the future of the franchise, so those two teams can?t be ruled out at this point.
Then, look at Buffalo, which has been in need of a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe was exiled. Yet, it?s a little hard to imagine owner Ralph Wilson would be keen on bringing Roethlisberger into such a quiet town.
So, we?re now pointed toward the JaMarcus Russell ? err, elephant ? in the room. Raiders owner Al Davis hasn?t really steered clear of guys with character issues, and he knows his team needs a quarterback worse than Roethlisberger needs a reality check. It sounds like a match made in Black Hole heaven.
Also think about the public relations fallout. New Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll probably doesn?t want to risk getting off on the wrong foot with his fan base, especially on the heels of those allegations of sticky recruiting practices at Southern California. The Jags would be in the same boat, handing the keys from model citizen and charity champion Garrard to Roethlisberger, who is a two-time Super Bowl champ but a sketch ball when it comes to life away from the gridiron.
Davis, on the other hand, would have little explaining to do. The Raiders have a good base on defense and a couple of bright spots on offense. They won five games last season, and an established quarterback like Roethlisberger might be good enough to get the Raiders to eight or nine victories in 2010.
Since the Patriots hold the Raiders? 2011 first-round draft pick, the folks in Foxboro have to be hoping Big Ben doesn?t wind up in Oakland. As the Raiders currently stand ? with Russell and Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback ? the Pats figure to be looking at a top-10 pick next year, but the addition of Roethlisberger could potentially drop that selection to the range of Nos. 15-20.
So, after the Patriots dodged a bullet with the McNabb-to-Oakland rumors, they?re back in the fingers-crossed position, hoping Roethlisberger doesn?t wind up with the Raiders. Naturally, they?d enjoy getting him out of Pittsburgh, especially with the Steelers on the schedule this season, but a trade to the Raiders wouldn?t be an ideal consolation prize.