His name is infamous in Pittsburgh. But NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport is not backing down from his 2013 report that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger going to request a trade if his contract demands weren't met.
Rapoport spoke to Ken Laird and Guy Junker on Trib Live Radio Saturday, and understandably, the subject of that report came up.
Rapoport didn't re-assert any claim that Roethlisberger will specifically demand a trade, but he did say he doesn't see Roethlisberger's alleged dissatisfaction with his current contract having melted away.
"There are certainly still some issues out there," Rapoport said. "Ben's contract is still an issue. Regardless of the success they've had his contract is still a looming issue. The cap troubles have been going on for many years...to me, his contract still needs to be addressed and he still wants it to be addressed. Until that gets figured out, I'm not sure we have any resolution."
Roethlisberger is on the hook for $12.1 million in salary this season, 12th highest at his position in the NFL, according to Over The Cap.
To Rapoport, that's a problem. When asked if he thought Roethlisberger is content with his current salary, he said, "Playing for $12 million while all of his brethren in the top echelon of quarterbacks play for $18, $19, $20 million? I don't think he'd be thrilled with that with that, nor should he be.
Roethlisberger is a very good player, I don't need to tell you about the qualifications he has as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Will he be ok for another year not being paid like it? That's a question only he knows. If they have to wait until the next offseason to re-do his deal, what if he gets injured? That's a lot of risk for a player who deserves a little more."
It makes sense logically. Roethlisberger is nowhere near the 12th best quarterback in the league, and there are quarterbacks who would be placed around that level making significantly more money than him. At the same time, Roethlisberger's cap number sits over $18 million, largely because of the amount of restructures he's had in the past few years that have given him a considerable amount of cash each year. Plus, he's still got two more years on his contract - the one that bears his signature.
It's a difficult situation for both sides, and if the team is going to risk angering their star quarterback, it's being done with a substantial amount of cap investment in him. It's perhaps unfair, but for the sake of context, Seattle's Russell Wilson just won a Super Bowl while being paid approximately five percent of what Roethlisberger is.
Then again, Wilson has played two years in the league and hasn't had the joys of having the likes of Justin Hartwig, Jonathan Scott and Chris Kemoeatu block for him.
The Steelers did not set a priority in signing Roethlisberger to an extension this offseason, as evidenced by the slew of deals they've made recently in an effort to become cap compliant by March 11. It's still early in the offseason, though, so perhaps a deal will still be worked out.