Why hasn't Isaac Redman signed his RFA tender from the Steelers?

Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

It makes little sense why a NFL running back nearing the age of 30, would not sign the team's RFA tender - especially considering the team has been flirting with another back in free-agency.

Sure. Pittsburgh Steelers fans love their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the first QB to win them a Super Bowl since Terry Bradshaw. They love their Heath Miller, the ultimate professional; and they can't get enough flowing locks from either Troy Polamalu or Brett Keisel. However, from 2009 to 2012, one name stood above all others in the hearts of Steeler Nation - Isaac Redman.

Redman reached legendary status during training camp goal-line battles, where he out-shined all of the drafted players on the field. He worked his way up from practice squadder, to opening day starter in 2012. Even on his worst days, fans still like Ike. Few football players ever earn the admiration of his team's fans, like Redman has.

So why hasn't he signed his tender yet, basically securing his position on the team again in 2013?

Redman is a restricted free-agent, and the team has already officially tendered him an offer worth $1.323 million. The amount of his tender grants the Steelers first right of refusal should another team wish to offer him a better deal. Redman has never made over a million dollars in any season in his three-year career.

RFAs holding off on signing their tenders is nothing new. Mike Wallace refused to sign his tender until the beginning of the season last year, because he was trying to push the Steelers into offering him a lucrative long-term deal. If they did, it didn't match the number in his head; even though he tried to wait them out hoping they would cave. They did not, he signed his $2.742 million tender and played out his final year in Pittsburgh. Now, he is a Miami Dolphins receiver making the kind of money he was looking for in Pittsburgh.

Redman does not have Wallace's leverage, which was barely any at all.

Emmanuel Sanders was recently entertained by the New England Patriots for a physical and a conversation. He is also a RFA, and has not signed his tender yet, either. Sanders is still waiting to hear if the Patriots will make an offer. Few expected any team to come after Sanders as a RFA, although it makes sense considering his youth and potential. Knowing he has a willing suitor explains why he hasn't signed his tender yet.

Is Redman expecting a similar offer?

He may be entering only his fourth NFL season - fifth if you count his first year on the practice squad - but, he will turn 29 in November. In today's NFL, running backs have an expiration date of 30, unless you have an established career, like Steven Jackson. Even though making Redman an offer would not cost a second team any draft picks, few teams will go out of their way to steal a 29 year-old running back.

Is he waiting for the team to make him a better offer?

Because of his age, chances are slim of Redman receiving a multi-year deal from Pittsburgh. The team has already drawn criticism for committing itself to over a million dollars in a back up running back, whether it be Redman or Jonathan Dwyer, who surpassed Redman on the depth chart in 2012. Redman and Dwyer entered the NFL in the same season, 2010; but, Dwyer is almost six years younger than Redman. Even if they both performed equally in 2013, Dwyer would be seen as a more favorable option for re-sign - even in a back-up role.

Now, toss in Ahmad Bradshaw, who visited the Steelers yesterday for a physical and conversation of his own. He left Pittsburgh without a new contract, but the team insists they are still interested in him. While no one can confirm whether he failed or passed his physical, or if the team did or did not make him an offer during his visit; his door is not closed like James Harrison's.

Bradshaw's visit did, however, gift Redman an opportunity for leverage. Many who follow the Steelers are expecting them to draft a back in April. If Bradshaw and a rookie are added to the roster, Redman would become the first expendable player. Except, RFA tenders are guaranteed once they are signed. The cost of the tender is held against the team from the beginning of the league year, regardless of whether or not it contains a player's signature. To escape paying the full amount to an unemployed player, the team would have to retract their offer from Redman before it is signed.

So, knowing your team is courting your possible replacement, why not handcuff yourself to them for a million dollars, for one season? With no draft-pick compensation required by his tender, he will not receive better offers as an unrestricted free-agent.

Hopefully, there is a reason behind his delay. Few people have the opportunity to play in the NFL for millions of dollars. Redman's is coming to a close. One can't help but wonder what he is waiting for.

Redman has remained silent this off-season, leaving nothing but questions in his wake. For his sake, he should make up his mind soon; or he could be watching next season from Harrison's house.

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