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Report: Bills approached on Roethlisberger

4/21/2010

The Buffalo Bills might be able to acquire their much-needed franchise quarterback within the next few hours if they were so inclined.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday the Pittsburgh Steelers are shopping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for one of Thursday night's first 10 draft picks and have contacted the Bills. The Bills, Shefter later reported, aren't interested.

The Bills hold the ninth pick and need a quarterback.

Should the Bills take the chance?

Roethlisberger is among the NFL's top handful of quarterbacks. He's a two-time Super Bowl champion. But he received a six-game suspension Wednesday afternoon for embarrassing the league with his off-field misdeeds.

Purely as a football move, Roethlisberger for the ninth overall pick would be a steal. He's a franchise quarterback with six years left on his contract. The Steelers have paid out much of the guaranteed money already.

The Bills have a schedule that would make a Roethlisberger acquisition intriguing. Their first six games include one cycle through the AFC East, but they won't make their second round until the final three weeks of the regular season, creating an opportunity to make a late playoff push. The Bills host the Steelers on Nov. 28.

Roethlisberger would be a great fit for almost any offense, but he would be at home with the Bills. He's a sensational passer when he's on the run, and the Bills had one of the NFL's worst offensive lines last year.

Roethlisberger took 50 sacks last year. The Bills allowed 46 sacks.

There's no question Roethlisberger would make the Bills significantly more competitive and give them a legitimate shot to make a playoff run.

But everything he adds to a team in terms of talent and on-field leadership must be weighed against the suspension and his repeated errors in judgment.

There would be an initial public-relations problem, but it wouldn't last forever.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson would make such an important call, not general manager Buddy Nix. Wilson might be emboldened to take a chance on Roethlisberger because they did well with a reclamation project of a different kind last year.

The Bills signed lighting rod Terrell Owens, and the experience was pleasant from a behavioral standpoint. Owens didn't create any problems in the locker room or the community.

The Bills also can justify adding Roethlisberger to their locker room because he never has been charged with a crime and might have finally learned his lesson given the severe punishment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell meted out Wednesday.