The Steelers find themselves in a precarious position just a few days away from the NFL Draft.
The Steelers need running backs … bad.
However, they don’t have the money to get a veteran via free agency thus putting a tremendous burden of coming away with a handful ball carriers this weekend whether it is in the draft’s seven rounds or after the draft via the undrafted free agency market.
The Steelers currently have three running backs on the roster – Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, Baron Batch — which is not nearly enough. Last year, the Steelers started training camp with seven running backs –Redman, Dwyer, Batch, Chris Rainey, John Clay, Rashard Mendenhall (PUP list).
The year before that? Yup, seven running backs again. The year before that they had six running backs.
“Really, it depends on how the draft unfolds and what we do prior to the draft,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Monday. “Obviously, we have a number of days before the draft. Like Kevin (Colbert) has said numerous times, as have I, we’re interested in adding to this football team within all the avenues afforded to us within the system. Obviously, that’s free agency and the draft and we don’t lean one way or the other in terms of utilizing any of those vehicles.”
The Steelers would love to bring in a veteran and more established running back but just may not be able to.
They are only $600,000 under the salary cap, and even if you account the $5.5 million that will come the Steelers way on June 1 because of the release of Willie Colon, it still likely won’t be enough to entice a decent running back to town like an Ahmad Bradshaw.
“It’s not like we are going to hit the lottery (with the June 1 $5.5 million),” Colbert said. “We still have to compensate for these draft picks. The eight draft picks will start to count against the cap once they are signed. That’s all part of the money that we will pick up in June. There is still potential to sign a veteran free agent here or there depending on how we come out of this draft. We have to be ready to add a player if we think they can help us.”
Take in account that Colbert likes to hold back a little more than a million dollar in case of an emergency and the Steelers must add multiple running backs by the end of the week.
Knowing that, it looks like that Dwyer and Redman will be your running backs again this year. And if both stay healthy, that might not be a bad thing.