Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Addressing The "Trade Ben Roethlisberger" Talk; Sean Spence Put On IR

Updated 11/17/13
by Jayden Matthews
Mid-season is upon us and things aren't exactly what we'd have expected in the City of Bridges. To the degree that many fans are ready go to one of them and jump off. Especially regarding her favorite son and quarterback. 

Earlier in the season, we at If It Ain’t Steel had decided we weren’t going to unnecessarily defend said quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger, because of his play. And frankly, he hasn't deserved it. Big Ben has played nowhere near to the best of his ability and at times has resembled some guy we simply are not used to watching. What's more is he will be the first to admit that. So why defend his play? 

But what has me angered and therefore the reason for writing this is that some fans are calling for him to be benched. Further than that, more than a few are saying the Steelers should not extend their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and even trade him. Now, we wrote a parody blog in the offseason about trading Big Ben, but...

What are you people thinking???

I was born after the Terry Bradshaw, Steel Curtain, four Super Bowl-winning run of the 1970's. When I was born, frankly, the Steelers were not that good. But that happens when players get old, new players come in, coaching staffs change, front office personnel change, etc... When I realized what football even was, despite their not being very good, I chose to be a Steelers fan. They were not forced on me, even though my dad was a true blue, diehard Steelers fan, as was most of my family. I chose to be a fan, again, even though they weren’t winning championships.
The first Super Bowl that I, myself, can remember was when Larry Brown became Neil O’Donnell’s favorite target - the problem was just that Brown played for the Cowboys. Sorry for the bad flashback, but, if you're like me, you probably still ruminate over it knowing it's the reason we don’t have seven Lombardi trophies. 

But that is my first recollection of a championship caliber team, and the Steelers did not return to their again until 2005, after they drafted Big Ben. There were AFC Championships during that time, but no big dances.

The Steelers drafted Big Ben in 2004 and I was very happy because I had followed him in college and I knew he could be that guy to get them back to glory. He did not let me down, either. He has led them to the promised land three times in his first 10 years under center, winning twice. His play, capped by the greatest Super Bowl-winning drive in NFL history, in SB 43 should've earned him at least co-MVP also. 
This season, however, Big Ben has hardly looked like that championship-winning quarterback. The Steelers are having one of the worst seasons on record for this storied franchise. Is he the problem? Maybe, but he is not the entire problem, a subject which will be addressed again over the next few articles. 

Big Ben, though, has been turning the ball over a lot this season, throwing interceptions and fumbling. The last time he turned the ball over this much was in 2006. Is this on him? Yes and no. Some of it is that he is getting hit often because the offensive line forgot how to block, some of it is on the receivers not running the right routes and some are definitely on Big Ben. He hasn’t been securing the ball the way he should, has sometimes been reckless with it or has simply been inaccurate. Again, he will admit to all of this.

But now fans have it in their heads that not extending Ben or trading him is what's needed. "Just cut/trade him and move on." Their reasoning being the Steelers' Salary Cap issues, saying the team would be better off not extending him. Well, those saying that didn’t do their homework. 

Trading Big Ben would not help the Steelers cap-wise. Any team that he would be traded to would only be on the hook for his contract, not the money that was pushed back due to restructuring. Trading Big Ben would actually put the Steelers in a bigger hole than what they are already in cap wise because of the dead money hit they would take. 
Right now, the Steelers are $1.65 million under the Salary Cap and approximately $3-$4 million over the cap for 2014. Yes, players will be cut at the end of the season and contracts will be renegotiated to get under the Cap. But, if they would take that extra step and trade Big Ben they would take a $18-$24 million dead money hit against the cap, basically meaning they'd be working with only a $100 million Cap. So how is that helping the Steelers? 

(UPDATE: According to Ian Whetstone, whom we often reference, the Steelers would actually take a $13.59 million Salary Cap hit, and by extending him, the Steelers would only save $5.3 million. I unfortunately went elsewhere for the Cap information and was incorrectly informed. The fault is my own. In fact, Jayden had initially told me that the dead money hit was closer to $14 million...I really hate it when she's right.)

Are you comfortable with having an approximate $110 million Cap? That ties up money that can be used in signing and re-signing players that they need. Is there a solution? Why yes, there is. 

Rip up his current contract and redo  it overall, which in effect turns his old agreement into a new one, and of course extend him. That would do away with the dead money hit, his massive salary cap hit, etc... The beautiful thing of that is that the Steelers still have their franchise quarterback. Can that be done? Yes, it can. 

The New England Patriots did that very thing with Tom Brady, doing away with his old contract and it's liabilities and most of his salary was paid as a bonus which doesn't count against the Cap. -

In doing this the Steelers would not only save money but it would also allow them two years to clear up other money issues, freeing up money under the cap allowing them to re-sign their free agents and possibly sign other players. This is what I firmly believe will happen, because Big Ben has shown, including on his radio show this week, that he is all about the team and will do what is needed to help the team. -
The only drawback is the possibility of a per year salary being around $20 million. We'll be getting back to that soon enough.

Another thing ones have thrown around is that Big Ben is too old and needs to go. I say hogwash! Big Ben will be 32 at the start of 2014. Yes, he takes more hits than most QB’s, but a lot of that goes back to his style of play too. But to say he is getting old is funny because I don’t think Peyton Manning or Brady got that memo. 

If Ben at 31 is old, what would you call Brady and Manning? “Grandpas”? It's just insane to even utter those words and no need to further address any of that nonsense.

Look, I get that fans are frustrated, but to want to cut a guy that has never had a losing season is ludicrous. Especially considering he is fourth in win percentage all-time among NFL quarterbacks. 

All he does is win and you want him gone? You are willing to throw that all away and take a chance on an unproven guy that may or may not be the answer? Just ask Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, because he agrees with me. -

As a way of putting a bow on this, allow me to illustrate it this way: Cliff Stoudt, Bubby Brister, Jim Miller, Mike Tomzack, blah, blah, "we suck at QB", blah...


TIDBITS: Inside linebacker Sean Spence has been placed on IR. Can't agree with Gerry Dulac’s take, though, that the Steelers should've kept Spence on 53 for practice time. It's still a waste of a roster spot and would affect player(s) evaluation as season ends, or would be a hindrance if multiple players were to go down. It doesn’t matter whether or not he's gonna start in 2014, either, because he'll have ALL of the offseason to prepare (eligible for all camps because of injury).

“@MarkKaboly_Trib: On bright side for Sean Spence, at least Steelers thought enough of him to put him on IR rather than outright release him. Had both options”

"@MarkKaboly_Trib: Actually, Sean Spence not put on IR. Kept on PUP. Either way, season is over. Just semantics."


Ike Taylor and Vince Williams did not practice. David DeCastro and Markus Wheaton practiced.