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Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers facing crucial offseason

For all of this week's speculation surrounding Ben Roethlisberger's future, the key question remains: Is there fire behind all of this smoke with the Pittsburgh Steelers?

After speaking with a Steelers source, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Friday's edition of NFL Network's "Around the League Live" that the organization will not consider an offseason Roethlisberger trade, "unless (they) find a replacement."

General managers around the league tell Rapoport that Roethlisberger probably would bring more than just a first-round draft pick in return if the Steelers opt to field offers while rebuilding their roster.

It's hard to imagine Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert pulling the trigger on a trade unless Roethlisberger's contract extension discussions turn ugly, and the Steelers scouting department falls in love with a quarterback that will be available when they draft in the first round.

NFL Media's Charley Casserly opined on "Around the League Live" that Colbert won't seriously consider a trade even under that unlikely scenario.

"This isn't even one you take seriously, or bring it up in a joke if you're the Pittsburgh Steelers," Casserly said. "This is your solution to the problem. You have problems around him that you have to solve. ... This guy is still one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. There's nothing wrong with his game. It's everybody else around him. ... But this isn't even a serious discussion. Believe me."

All of the Roethlisberger drama seems more about sending messages and positioning for offseason leverage and less about the warning signs of a fractured relationship.

We've seen Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer and Jay Cutler traded in extenuating circumstances, but no franchise over the past two decades has given up on a quarterback of Roethlisberger's caliber and track record in the prime of his career.

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