The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't talked with other teams about dealing embattled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but they've had significant internal discussions about the matter, a source with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.
According to the source, Steelers ownership remains dismayed and embarrassed by Roethlisberger's actions in a Georgia college town this offseason and finds his string of off-the-field incidents troubling. The team has been closely monitoring the public backlash against Roethlisberger.
"The Rooneys are livid," the source said.
A Georgia district attorney decided not to hand down sexual-assault criminal charges against Roethlisberger on Monday, but the Steelers, as well as the NFL, could impose their own discipline on him.
Roethlisberger met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday. Goodell said Wednesday that he would make a decision on Roethlisberger's status "in the near future."
The Steelers' front office has talked internally about possible trade scenarios that could be feasible and what makes sense for the team. According to a source, if other teams called about Roethlisberger, the Steelers would intently listen.
The Steelers could envision several trade scenarios, but they're skeptical about other teams taking on Roethlisberger, given his baggage. However, they also realize his contract is tradeable in an uncapped year, with the bonuses already paid and Roethlisberger signed for six more years at a manageable salary for a franchise quarterback ($8.05 million in 2010, $11.6 million per year from 2011 to 2014, and $12.1 million in 2015).
In particular, the Steelers are enamored with likely No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford. They essentially view Bradford as a sure-thing franchise quarterback and have considered what it would take to move up to the No. 1 pick in a trade with the St. Louis Rams, according to a source. However, the Steelers know executing such a move would be highly difficult, and they figure the Rams have limited interest in Roethlisberger.
Steelers officials aren't worried about how Roethlisberger's return will impact the locker room. The Rooneys' concern is born of the history and prestige of their franchise, the recent fan backlash and public perception about Roethlisberger and their belief that no player is bigger than the team.