The Pittsburgh Steelers saw injury change the face of their team in 2015. Whether it was quarterback depth, or running back depth, both were extremely hindered by key injuries to key players.
Looking at the quarterbacks, the team seemed set on heading into the season with Ben Roethlisberger as the entrenched starter with Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones to round out the depth chart. After a shoulder and finger injury landed Gradkowski on injured reserve, the team was force to look elsewhere for help at the quarterback position. The team would eventually settle for Mike Vick to anchor the depth chart for the 2015 season.
As for the running backs, a similar story could be read. Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to lock down the backfield, but injuries required the team to eventually turn to Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman in two playoff games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. Not to mention the fact Will Johnson was essentially supplanted by Roosevelt Nix as the team's fullback throughout the 2015 season.
A list of free agents at the QB and RB positions:
Bruce Gradkowski - QB - $1,650,000 (Current Salary)
Mike Vick - QB - $970,000
Will Johnson - FB/TE - $1,542,000
Jordan Todman - RB - $745,000
The good thing for the Steelers is if they can stay healthy in 2016, many of these decisions won't matter. For instance, if Bell and Williams can stay in the lineup for the entire 2016 season, what the team does with Todman and Johnson, as they become free agents, won't mean anything.
The same can be said about the quarterback position, but with the team looking at entering next season with a depth chart of Roethlisberger and Landry Jones, it may be time to think long and hard about how to address the backup situation.
Prediction: In my opinion, the Steelers will be allowing both free agent running backs to test free agent waters. As stated earlier, Johnson was essentially surpassed on the depth chart by Nix, and Todman, although a nice asset to have, will be allowed to explore other options as the team will be okay going into training camp with Bell, Williams and Toussaint as their main trio of backs.
The quarterback situation is a cloudy one for the black and gold. Gradkowski knows the system in and out, but age isn't on his side. Believe it or not, but there are some fans who actually want the team to consider bringing Vick back for another season. As for me, I've seen enough of that movie to know I've seen too much. I think the Steelers will ask Gradkowski to take a league minimum deal to come back in 2016, while looking to address the position in the later rounds of the draft.
In this scenario, the Steelers would go into training camp with Roethlisberger, Gradkowski, Jones and a rookie to possibly round out the group. Sounds familiar, but looking at the free agent quarterbacks, there aren't many who are intriguing to bring in for top dollar. The only way I look outside the organization is if Gradkowski doesn't sign the deal we offer, in which case it would force the team's hand into looking elsewhere for quarterback depth.