Mehno: Steelers, Ben should keep options open

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers say they have no plans to trade Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger says he doesn’t want to play anywhere but Pittsburgh.

So that settles that.

Except for the fact that a trade might be the best thing for both parties.

When this season ends, the Steelers have to assess where they are and where they’re headed. The organization’s stated goal is to play in the Super Bowl every season, but that’s obviously not realistic this year.

This isn’t even a playoff team, much less a legitimate championship contender.

Moving forward, it’s hard to believe there’s quick fix for the Steelers. They need a couple of solid drafts to replenish the talent pool. A few good free agent signings would help, too.

That won’t be done in a year, especially with more veterans departing after this season. Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel aren’t likely to return, and Troy Polamalu may represent a difficult decision for the Steelers, too.

So with two years left on Roethlisberger’s existing contract, the Steelers could be more than two years away from being a Super Bowl team.

If that’s the case, maybe Roethlisberger would be happier in a situation where another team is ready to win.

His career has more past history than future promise, so who knows how many more seasons he has?

He could play until he’s 40. But injuries could affect whatever plans he has in mind. Terry Bradshaw played his last full season at age 33. NFL players are always a hit away from involuntary retirement.

Roethlisberger says he wants to say. He’s earnest enough to be believable. But what if there’s little realistic chance to win in Pittsburgh?

What if another team would be willing to give the Steelers a bundle of prime draft picks for Roethlisberger?

It’s still unlikely the Steelers would trade their franchise quarterback. They had too many seasons of Bubby Brister, Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox to underestimate the importance of a first-rate quarterback.

But the possibility of a deal can’t – and shouldn’t – be dismissed out of hand, either.

Hurdle wins

The only surprise in Clint Hurdle winning the National League manager of the year award is that he wasn’t a unanimous choice.

The other finalists were Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Don Mattingly.

But Hurdle competed in a tougher division (three teams in the postseason field) and he managed in an organization that had fewer resources to compete.

For that same reason, it’s an injustice that Neal Huntington was the runner up to Boston’s Ben Cherington for executive of the year.

It’s tough to win in baseball, even tougher with the constraints that come with operating in a small market.

Game of inches

The Miami Dolphins ran the ball 14 times against Tampa Bay on Monday night and gained 2 yards.

That works out to 5 inches per attempt.

You ought to be able to make a foot just by stumbling forward, right?

Mehno can be reached at