By Alan Robinson
The Steelers traditionally don’t spend much money or take many risks in free agency.
Given their many needs — and there could be more by the end of next week — this might be a year when they need to be a bit risky, especially when it might not cost them very much money.
If Rashard Mendenhall leaves, and it seems very likely he will, the Steelers will have a glaring need for a running back — even if they bring back restricted free agents Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, as expected.
But there is a physical and effective 1,000-yard back on the market who would seem to fit their needs perfectly, and he won’t cost them what such a player commonly commands on the open market.
He is Ahmad Bradshaw, who owns two Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants but was cut earlier this month to avoid paying him his $3.75 million salary in 2013.
Bradshaw will turn 27 later this month, an age at which running backs can still be very effective. He ran for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns last season, and he has 4,232 yards in six Giants seasons.
Even better, he is a locker room leader and high-character player who has missed only eight games in five seasons despite having chronic foot problems.
“Can’t walk on Thursday, but he plays on Sunday,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
The Steelers could use a few more players who actually play on Sunday.
Bradshaw recently had foot surgery — he had a large screw placed in his right foot — but hopes be to cleared Wednesday to resume offseason activities. His foot problems — he has had issues with both feet — apparently have scared off some teams, and the Steelers normally don’t sign a player with such baggage.
But perhaps Bradshaw should be the exception, given the production, leadership and intangibles he could bring to a team that needs more of all three such qualities. Especially given he wouldn’t cost them anything close to what a 1,000-yard rusher normally does.
Bradshaw reportedly was encouraged to play for a team with a grass field, which, of course, the Steelers have.
The Giants cut Bradshaw partly because they have first-round draft pick David Wilson ready to step in and replace him.
The Steelers, right now, have nobody to step in.