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Steelers discuss Roethlisberger trade with Raiders; Rams say no

The Pittsburgh Steelers have stepped up their efforts to trade two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Oakland Raiders might be the only real option.

The Steelers were rebuffed by the St. Louis Rams over the weekend, but a league source said Wednesday that they also have contacted the Raiders, who need a veteran quarterback and tried to land Donovan McNabb before the Philadelphia Eagles traded him to the Washington Redskins earlier this month.

The Raiders have a history of taking on troubled players such as Roethlisberger, who received a six-game suspension Wednesday for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. Also, Roethlisberger's contract isn't hefty and would be easy to absorb in a trade.

The Steelers had a brief conversation with the Rams, according to a league source, but they weren't interested in acquiring Roethlisberger. The Steelers wanted to send Roethlisberger to the Rams as part of a package to move up to No. 1 overall in this week's draft and select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.

That could make the Raiders the only fit. The Steelers are open to packaging Roethlisberger and the No. 18 pick to move up in the draft. The Raiders own the No. 8 selection.

Steelers president Art Rooney II declined to comment about any possibility of trading Roethlisberger.

"As we've said before, we really can't answer questions about trades, especially this time of year," Rooney said during a conference call. "We go into every draft with the idea to do anythying we can to make our team a better football team. We just have to stick with that and not discuss trades in advance."

Despite Roethlisberger's issues, the Steelers want decent value in return for the quarterback. But given the six-game suspension and the limited interest in Roethlisberger, team sources view a deal as extremely remote, if not impossible.

The Buffalo Bills also pick in the top 10 and need a quarterback, but they don't appear interested in Roethlisberger at this time. Doug Whaley, a former executive in Pittsburgh, moved to Buffalo this offseason to work with general manager Buddy Nix, but the Steelers don't expect him to recommend Roethlisberger to his new team because he would harbor some of the same reservations that they do.

The Cleveland Browns have the No. 7 pick and lack a long-term solution at quarterback, but the Steelers wouldn't trade Roethlisberger to an AFC North rival, according to a team source. That also was the Steelers' position with wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was dealt to the New York Jets earlier this month.




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The Steelers prepared for Roethlisberger's suspension Tuesday by acquiring quarterback Byron Leftwich from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a seventh-round pick (225th overall). Leftwich was Roethlisberger's backup during the Steelers' 2008 Super Bowl championship season and could be a fill-in starter.

Leftwich reported to the Steelers on Wednesday, and the team extended his contract through 2011, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The Steelers also have longtime backup Charlie Batch and third-year pro Dennis Dixon under contract at quarterback. Batch has been injured each of the past two seasons. Dixon has started only one NFL game, but he likely would compete with Leftwich in training camp to be the early season starter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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