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Ben Trade Rumors: Rapoport stands by his story in wake of mounting criticism

In support of his story, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport appeared on the Starkey, Mueller and Miller Show Tuesday, discussing how he came about the information that led to the major talker Sunday in the NFL.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport is putting the adage "there is no such thing as bad publicity" to the test.

But he isn't backing away from his report that stated Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may seek a trade this offseason, and generally is unhappy with the direction of the Steelers' offense.

Appearing on the Starkey Miller and Mueller Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Rapoport said, "I would not be surprised if most of the offensive staff turned over after this year, and Steelers sources also wouldn’t be surprised if Ben asked them to explore possible trade options at the end of this season."

This was the gist of his report, although many have turned it more into the Steelers were looking to trade Roethlisberger. Rapoport also clarified comments he made Sunday regarding the team fielding offers for their quarterback, essentially saying the team received "at least one call" from a team inquiring about his availability.

That message seems benign in nature. Certainly, general manager Kevin Colbert can't help who calls him asking if a player is available via trade. And if they're going to go as far as ask about it, they may as well have an offer prepared.

Based on what Rapoport wrote, that aspect of the story seems more indicative of suggesting there is a market for the 32-year-old quarterback, who carries with him a $17.5 million cap hit next year. As the Steelers have emphatically stated, however, they have no interest in trading Roethlisberger.

That makes the portion of Rapoport's story - the one about the offensive coaching staff - more prevalent. The statement "Fire Haley" has not exactly come rarely via social media, radio call-in shows and the comments feature on Behind The Steel Curtain. While these calls are met by those who have followed the team for a long time with a brief history lesson on how the team doesn't do such things.

It's not unreasonable to question the current direction of this team's offense, though. Why should it be met with ridicule to even possibly think, behind closed doors, Roethlisberger doesn't feel the same way? The Steelers held the ball for over 35 minutes against Buffalo, and had 300 yards of offense, scoring 23 points. It was 8-for-17 on third down, and was 2-for-5 in the red zone.

There is a difference between truth and accuracy.

The harsh reaction from Roethlisberger, his agent and the team was to be expected - Rapoport even said he expected it to be denied. It's not a leap to think a player and his agent would deny a report that wasn't supposed to go public but came out two hours before a game in Week 10. He certainly wasn't going to corroborate it.

None of this means Roethlisberger wants a trade. It's more likely a leverage-based bluff - keep in mind, Roethlisberger has a large cap number next year, and is angling for an extension. If he doesn't get the numbers he wants, it wouldn't be unheard of for a player to ask for a trade.

More than anything, perhaps the lesson here is Rapoport buried his lede, and this is really about a prediction of movement for offensive coaches currently on the Steelers' staff. Judging by the Steelers' offensive numbers this season, is it really unreasonable to think moves are coming?

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