More grumblings are emerging out of Pittsburgh over a perceived feud between the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. A week after rumors surfaced that the franchise quarterback was mulling a trade request, the NFL Network reported Thursday that the organization was unhappy with his play amidst a disastrous 3-6 season.
Speaking on "NFL Total Access Kickoff" Thursday morning, columnist Michael Silver reported that an unnamed source within the Steelers organization told him "the biggest obstacle" to Roethlisberger returning to the team next season was his unwillingness to change his style of play.
Big Ben has long been known for his tendency to hold onto the ball and extend plays in the backfield, a strategy that has led to him taking a pounding over his 10 years in Pittsburgh.
The source also indicated that the team is displeased with his off-field preparation habits. While they acknowledged to Silver that Roethlisberger "is more engaged this year" at the team facility, they noted "when he is away from the facility, he is no Peyton Manning."
Roethlisberger responded on Thursday, denying the reports to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and questioning the source.
"If someone is a source and they are unnamed, they have an agenda," Roethlisberger said. "How does anybody know what I am doing at home when I am watching film and looking through my playbook at home?"
The two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion has two years remaining on the eight-year, $102 million contract he signed in 2008, but is expected to seek an extension somewhere in the $20 million range at the end of this season, according to reports. The comments on his lack of commitment have been seen by some as positioning by the organization heading into offseason negotiations.
Rumors broke last week that a disgruntled Roethlisberger, upset in part by new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, is planning on requesting a trade following the conclusion of the 2013 season. Both sides vehemently denied the reports, with the quarterback stating he plans on staying in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his career.