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NFLN keeps driving wedge between Steelers, Roethlisberger


The Steelers may want to sell their 1/32nd interest in NFL Network. Then again, they may want to double down.

For the second time in four days, NFL Network has published a report that could drive a wedge between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And it could be playing out exactly how the Steelers want it.

On Thursday night, Mike Silver of NFL Network shared this observation from one or more unnamed Steelers sources: “When he is away from the facility, he is no Peyton Manning. That is the biggest obstacle to him staying.” Silver also said that the Steelers believe Roethlisberger “is more engaged this year, doing a better job of preparation when he is at the facility.”

Possible message, sent via the network the Steelers partially own? When it’s time to extend Ben’s contract after the season, Ben shouldn’t expect to get paid like Peyton Manning. And Roethlisberger should expect to make a bigger commitment to his profession.

On Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported, citing unnamed “Steelers sources,” that the Steelers believe Roethlisberger may ask for a trade in the offseason. All parties denied any intention to part ways, with Roethlisberger coming out so strongly and zealously against being traded that he has essentially backed himself into a corner. If the Steelers don’t offer him what he wants, it’s now impossible for him to ask to be traded.

But the phone definitely will be ringing, in the event a new deal can’t be worked out. Which will give the Steelers a viable Plan B if Ben wants to be paid like Peyton Manning and if the Steelers want to pay him like, well, Ben Roethlisberger.

Although Ben clumsily has claimed ignorance of contractual matters, the signs already are emerging that he wants more than $20 million per year. There’s no way the Steelers will pay him that much.

And so the game will continue, with the Steelers playing chess via the network they partially own -- and Roethlisberger saying, “Hey, what’s that horse thing?”