JACKSONVILLE FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars sits on the sidelines watching his team take on the Philadelphia Eagles at EverBank Field on September 26 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. The Eagles defeated the Jaguars 28-3. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Some may remember my reaction to supposed rumors that RB Mike Tolbert was heading to Pittsburgh in free agency last year. For those who don't, let's just say it was clear I didn't see it as a possibility.
Lo and behold, Tolbert is not on the Steelers.
While I'm absolutely not patting myself on the back for such a bold prediction, it is another example of how simply reading the situation for what it is tells you plenty about what's going on in the NFL, whether or not you're actually fielding calls in the office of the general manager.
The latest Madden Football-like speculative rumor is disgruntled Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew may be traded to the Steelers. Needless to say, this one could rank in the all-time Pantheon of ridiculousness.
Let's just look at a few facts:
Rashard Mendenhall has over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in the last two seasons. As it sits right now, there's nothing and no one saying he will not play in 2012. His salary is team-friendly as well.
Isaac Redman, minus some slippery hands in Week 17, ran very well in Mendenhall's absence in the final two games of the 2011 season. Maybe those outside Pittsburgh see him purely as a non-starter because, well, he hasn't been a starter, but teams watching him run can see he has a lot of talent, and no one should feel as if the position is not at worst stable with him in there.
The Four Behind Them (Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, John Clay and Chris Rainey) have all shown, one way or another, some pretty advanced skills. Two of them are probably going to get released if Mendenhall is able to start the season on the active roster. If not, probably two of them will be released, but all of them could play snaps for the Steelers this season, strictly on ability.
With that much depth in the backfield, an outstanding quarterback throwing to outstanding receivers and an offensive plan looking to feature more balance, what in the world is the point trading commodities for a feature running back who wants (and frankly, has earned) probably three times as much as the six running backs the Steelers have on the training camp roster now combined?
This doesn't at all suggest Jones-Drew is not an outstanding football player. Clearly, he's one of the best in the business, and has had a great career.
Teams don't win because of one player in the NFL. Even if he could come in and produce MVP numbers (I believe he could in Haley's offense), it would come at the long-term detriment to the team. One of the single greatest strengths the Steelers have is foresight. That future vision has enabled them to stockpile talent at a marquee position for dirt cheap. This season, the whole group is probably a $3 million cap charge.
This says nothing of the fact Jones-Drew currently is holding out of training camp. It would stand to reason he'd hold out of Pittsburgh's training camp until he got a new contract. Why give up players and/or picks to take on someone ticked off about their salary when the Steelers already have a receiver doing the same thing?
I'm probably greatly overstating my thoughts about an idea that was formulated logically but fails to provide any rationality or relevant context.
After all, Mendenhall's hurt, therefore, every free agent, disgruntled or valuable running back must be a target of the Steelers, even if it's a feature back and training camp is underway.
I'll be happy to eat some crow if it happens, though.