The Pittsburgh Steelers’ leading rusher of last year is no longer a part of the team. The Steelers cut ties with running back Jonathan Dwyer as the ongoing saga of the Steelers’ backfield continues to throw us curve balls.
Dwyer lead the team last season in rushing, lost a significant amount of weight during the offseason and was seen a lot during this year’s preseason. It was really looking as if he was going to play a significant role for the team. This is evidently not the case. According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review it wasn’t the coaches who wanted Dwyer gone.
It looks like it was more of the front office’s call to cut Dwyer. The Steelers gave Dwyer a $1.3 million restricted free agent tag and this apparently played a part in Dwyer’s release. Dwyer wasn’t the best back the Steelers have ever had but was solid during his time in the steel city. However, not solid enough to spend $1.3 million on.
It gets interesting when you bring Isaac Redman into the picture. Redman was signed to a similar deal, was not the leading rusher last season and barely saw the field during the preseason. So why not let him go and keep Dwyer? That’s a good question that I wish I knew the answer to. The Steelers must think that Redman is worth the money while Dwyer is not. Redman will be the starter come Sunday.
The running back situation in Pittsburgh has been all over the place this offseason. The rookie Le’Veon Bell was supposed to be the answer to the inconstant backfield woes, but that got thrown for a loop when he suffered a foot injury during the second game of the preseason. Bell is aiming to return in week 2 but that’s probably a best-case scenario.
The Steelers went out and traded for running back Felix Jones as well. Jones is another back that adds depth and hopefully will pick up some slack while Bell recovers. The team also has the change-of-pace back, LaRod Stephens-Howling, who could make a difference if he can play at a high level.
None of these backs are consistent and neither was Dwyer. The answer to his release isn’t crystal clear just yet but it would appear that the almighty dollar played a key role. Dwyer wasn’t claimed off waivers and it’s been reported that he’s scheduling workouts with other teams. On an interesting note, a Baltimore Sun reporter tweeted the news on Dwyer scheduling workouts. Could the arch-divisional-rivals, the Baltimore Ravens be after Dwyer? We can only speculate but it’s not out of the question.
The spotlight will be on the Steelers running backs this season. Fingers crossed that these running backs can gel and the team can have an accomplished running game.