Giants Owner Says Roethlisberger was Back-Up Plan in 2004 NFL Draft

NFL.com got an interesting tidbit Wednesday during all the craziness of Media Day in Super Bowl Week.

According to Giants owner John Mara, if his team and the Chargers failed to execute a trade that sent the No. 1 overall pick owned by San Diego for the Giants' No. 4 overall pick, the Giants would have selected Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The trade did go down, and the Chargers selected QB Eli Manning, while the Giants selected Phillip Rivers with the No. 4 overall pick. The teams swapped those quarterbacks, along with a few other picks, and the Steelers eventually took Roethlisberger at 11 overall.

It's impossible to say with a precise degree of accuracy what may have happened if that trade hadn't happened, but it's certainly possible the Steelers wouldn't have ended up with the franchise passer they currently enjoy in Roethlisberger.

The deal itself was made only after the Giants selected Rivers, and what Mara said was they wouldn't have taken Rivers if there was no deal. Let's assume Manning goes No. 1, the Raiders still take OT Robert Gallery at 2, and the Cardinals take WR Larry Fitzgerald at 3, along with Mara's intentions of taking Roethlisberger at 4.

With Rivers on the board still, would Washington have pulled the trigger on Rivers, instead of the insanely athletic Sean Taylor at 5? Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell split starting QB duties that year.

What about Cleveland's decision to bypass a franchise quarterback in favor of TE Kellen Winslow? In reality, they passed on the local product Roethlisberger in favor of the alleged evolutionary Winslow. Perhaps Rivers, who was more polished and had a stronger arm (but funkier release), would have been enticing enough for the Browns to invest in him.

Then again, It's nearly nine years from when they made that decision, and they still don't have a franchise QB. Let's see if they pass on a chance to take Robert Griffin III in this year's draft.

Detroit selected WR Roy Williams with the seventh overall pick, who, sadly, wasn't even the least productive receiver taken in the top 10 that year. The Lions had Joey Harrington, a player whom, incorrectly in retrospect, they believed was a franchise quarterback.

The high-and-low productive CB Deangelo Hall went eighth to Atlanta, and Jacksonville's bust WR Reggie Williams went ninth.

Atlanta had Michael Vick on their roster before he was indicted for animal cruelty (and lied to his owner about it).

Houston felt the same way as Detroit did, and were just as wrong about David Carr as the Lions were about Harrington. They took CB Dunta Robinson instead.

Would the Steelers have grabbed Rivers at that spot, if he was available? If he wasn't, who may have slid down in this revisionist's view of the 2004 Draft?

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