Art Rooney II sounds off on Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers running backs

Joe Sargent

The franchise is clearly sending a message this offseason; 8-8 is unacceptable, and while some are being called to task more than others, everyone should expect significant changes as they go through their roster.

It's not an offseason for mincing words down at the South Side Facility.

Steelers president Art Rooney II recently sounded off about the team's running backs position, noting the lack of production from would-be free agent Rashard Mendenhall, while noting his comeback from a major knee injury.

Injuries or otherwise, the position needs to get better, according to Rooney.

"The season Rashard had was not what we would have hoped for," said Steelers President Art Rooney II when asked for his assessment. "Obviously, we knew he was coming back from an injury so there were some unknowns there. So, without getting into the real specifics with Rashard, it's fair to say that we are going to need a better performance out of the running back position if we're going to be successful, Whether it's Rashard or Jonathan or Isaac or somebody else, we have to be better at that position, as well as others, but certainly at that position. In this offseason that's something we've got to look at and decide how we get better and who we get better with."

Needless to say, even if Mendenhall did want to appear in a Steelers uniform in the 2013 season, it doesn't seem like his soon-to-be former boss wants that.


MORE: Steelers Free Agency Stream | Steelers Draft News


His release, as well as the restricted free agency status of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, and release of Chris Rainey this offseason, means the Steelers have one running back signed after the 2013 season - Baron Batch. This is similar - just worse - than a wide receivers group who only has one player signed after the 2013 season, Antonio Brown.

Somewhat troubling is the salary cap struggle the team will undergo for a second consecutive offseason despite only having one receiver and one running back inked after this upcoming year.

Based on what Rooney said, it's a position the team clearly will address most likely through the draft and possibly free agency. But considering Mendenhall was the last running back the Steelers have taken with a first round pick, and just five seasons into his career, he was battling undrafted free agent Redman and sixth-round pick Dwyer for carries, it would take quite a bit to dip into that well again.

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