The Steelers have difficult salary cap-based decisions to make and one position that gets fairly expensive in restricted free agency based on production is running back. Is it time to scrap them all and start over?
A statement we've kicked around here often from Bill Parcells goes, "if you have two quarterbacks, you have none."
The same isn't entirely true about running backs, but souping it up a bit and giving the statement a modern feel, it'd read something like "If you have running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, and you're paying them a combined $2.6 million in restricted free agency tags, you don't have much."
Both enter restricted free agency, and both will likely earn original round tenders, meaning the Steelers would get a sixth round pick in exchange for choosing not to match a team's offer to Dwyer, and they'd get nothing for Redman. The odds of either Redman or Dwyer getting signed away are very slim, considering teams offer restricted free agents contracts so rarely, the union has considered filing anti-trust action against the league.
Their production doesn't really merit it, either. Both have had good games, both have had clunkers and both have been injured often in their careers.
So which do the Steelers keep, if either of them? The $1.3 million tags for each of them are fully guaranteed, and are considerably higher than a rookie would cost. Considering neither of them were high picks and haven't made much money in the first place, it seems possible the Steelers could simply choose to let them go, and either try to find a less expensive option in free agency or the draft.
The Steelers don't even have two running backs signed after the 2013 season anyway. They have one; Baron Batch. Would they be willing to turn the keys of the running game over to a rookie taken in the middle rounds, or maybe even a higher round pick, letting Redman and Dwyer (and Rashard Mendenhall) go?
Tough decisions will come before March 12, and the Steelers should consider all options, especially and including giving significant raises to two players who struggled to stay on the field throughout their tenure in Pittsburgh.