It's no secret that I believe strongly that the Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need a speed element in the backfield, a change of pace running back if you will. I recently wrote an article imploring Steelers GM Kevin Colbert to place a phone call to Denver Broncos GM John Elway inquiring about the availability of dynamic RB Phillip Lindsay.
Since I can't seem to find his phone number for some odd reason, I could only hope that Colbert would stumble across my brilliantly constructed suggestion and think, "What a great idea, I should give my old buddy John a call!" I imagine this great working relationship blossoming prior to last year's draft when the two GMs worked out a trade that allowed the Steelers to move up and select the object of their affection, ILB Devin Bush.
Colbert has implied difficulty in the past finding a willing trade partner. Considering how Elway was ready to play let's make a deal last season, I logically assumed the start of a beautiful friendship. I still believe Lindsey could take the Steelers offense to the next level, but I haven't heard about any activity between the two franchises as of yet. Maybe no news is good news.
I was searching the net this morning looking for current information leading up to this week's NFL Draft when I stumbled upon a couple of articles suggesting another speedy RB might be available via trade. The running back presumed to be on the trading block was none other than San Francisco Forty Niners RB Matt Breida, a speed demon who only needs to be even to be leaving. He is a big play waiting to happen, and is perfectly suited to be the change of pace back in a RB committee.
Breida has sub 4.4 speed and his elite explosion was evident at his Georgia Southern pro day when he recorded a 42" vertical and a 11' 2" broad jump. Breida has multiple long runs during his three years with the Niners, proving he has football speed that translates to the field, not just track speed. He is particularly dangerous on sweep plays and pitches, stretching opposing defenses sideline to sideline.
Breida just signed a second round restricted free agent tender this week to stay with the Forty Niners. The deal is for 3.259 million this season. Not a bad contract for a big play specialist out of the backfield. So why would any pundit assume that Breida is a strong trade candidate? Because the Niners have a surplus of running backs, with Breida being the second highest paid of the group.
The Niners smartly placed the second round tender on Breida because he is too talented a runner to let walk away with nothing in return, but one article predicted the Niners only receiving a fifth round pick as compensation for Breida. A beat writer for the Niners referenced Breida's troubling history of nagging injuries, and a propensity to find himself in the proverbial doghouse on occasion, as reasons for his diminished trade value.
I know what you are thinking. Why would the Steelers want another injury prone running back? We have had plenty of those over the last few years. The answer is simple, because the Steelers haven't had a runner with Breida's combination of speed and big play ability since Willie Parker, if ever. Breida has proven he is a threat to take it the distance everytime he touches the ball at the NFL level. That is a valuable commodity that is extremely hard to find.
The truth is Breida still needs to prove he has the durability to remain on the field, where he has the ability to be a difference maker for any contender. The jury is still out on that one, but he may very well be worth the gamble, especially if the price is right. Any draft pick is a unknown, especially a third day selection. Breida is a proven talent, representing great value for the expected compensation.
Anybody out there have John Lynch's phone number? Just asking for a friend.