This is what happens when a team is 3-6 and struggling throughout their season. Suddenly, several rumors or “reports” begin to leak to the local and national media surrounding certain marquee names on the team.
You don’t see this happening to the Denver Broncos or Kansas City Chiefs this season, but when the Pittsburgh Steelers are underperforming, all the media pundits feel as if they know that players like Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Clark and even Troy Polamalu are on their way out.
Whether it be via trade or release, the rumors are swirling around this Steelers team, and you shouldn’t put much stock into them. The main reason why there shouldn’t be a focus on these rumors is simply that certain players’ time with the team is about to be spent regardless of the result of the 2013 season.
A perfect example is Clark. This is Clark’s final year in his current contract, and the writing has been on the wall since no extension was reached before the season. If Clark decides to stay, it will be on the Steelers’ terms and not his. That is just how the team operates.
The new rumors surrounding Roethlisberger requesting a trade in the offseason and Polamalu being released at season’s end are off base to say the least. Roethlisberger’s trade request is something that actually doesn’t surprise me, but there is no way that the Steelers will trade the franchise quarterback unless their return is truly great.
There have been articles written about possible landing spots for “Big Ben”, but none of the teams listed will be willing to give up franchise players themselves, or give up success in their future draft to bring in the Super Bowl=winning quarterback. Roethlisberger has two years remaining on his current contract, and if the Steelers don’t extend his contract this offseason, then you will know that something is up.
Roethlisberger’s salary cap hit will be too high for the team to function, so if no extension happens, you can expect the quarterback to possibly be on the move; but until then, I wouldn’t put much stock into this rumor.
Polamalu being released makes even less sense. He is due $8 million dollars next season, and restructuring would most likely bring that number down if the Steelers don’t part ways with the safety. What truly makes me think the Steelers won’t be moving Polamalu is the fact that there is no one behind him at the safety position. In terms of Clark, the Steelers drafted his replacement this year in Shamarko Thomas, but no one is ready to step into Polamlu’s safety position.
Polamalu does so much for the Steelers’ defense that goes unnoticed by the untrained eye that there is no reason why the Steelers would let him walk, especially with him staying healthy and starting to play the way he is capable of.
In any regard, any NFL team’s struggles will lead to these type of reports, but if you look at the players, their contracts and their potential replacements, you can see whether it is feasible for the player to be with the team next year. Plain and simple, I wouldn’t put much stock into these rumors or reports.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz