Isaac Redman proved he is a featured back. John Clay showed promise, as did Jonathan Dwyer. Baron Batch is itching to get back himself. The Steelers have four running backs who will be standing on the sidelines this summer during training camp hungry as hell to capture the number one spot. What about Mendenhall? As far as I’m concerned, he’s dead weight, and so should the rest of Steelers Nation and the front office.
The Steelers have quite a feat of losing the required cap money before March 13th. They’ve done well already by releasing some players who rarely contribute to the team. They’ve restructured contracts with some of the bigger names and $$$$. Now comes the really hard part – ditching players who have made a name for themselves within this organization.
Hines Ward is rumored to have a bullseye bigger than Heinz Field on his back. And even though the team is saying they are unsure, they are sure. If they need to save $4 million, they will save $4 million. Ward’s chances of returning are very small in my opinion. The opportunity to save that much money has Rooney, Colbert and Khan salivating. I don’t agree nor do I like their decision – this organization has always taken the high road with regards to loyalty to it’s personel and players. Ward has been as loyal as a Golden Retriever for the Steelers for 14 years – the Steelers need to buck up and make the hard choice of keeping him on this team for one more year. We need not a repeat of Franco Harris.
If the Steelers are willing to ditch Ward. And, if very soon they end up dumping him, then they need to say farewell to Rashard Mendenhall as well. Mendenhall is reaching the end of his 5-year $9.5 million contract this season. It’s a contract year, so the team should have expected big things from this wishy washy tweety of a fellow. But, instead they are more than likely going to place Mendenhall on the PUP list while he recovers from his ACL tear. In 2012, Mendenhall will count as $2.01 million against the cap. Not a ton of money in comparison to other players on the team. However, his worth is far less than what he will get paid. Ward is worth 3-4 times that with his heart, smile, spirit and mentoring ability. Oh yeah, he can still catch, block and run too.
I’ve never like Mendenhall and one could probably surmise that I’ve had it out for him even before last season. You would be right to some extent because let’s face it – most of it is warranted. He has an attitude problem, his numbers suffered this past season, his work ethic on the field was put into question (not just by me) and now he is shelved. Even if he is ‘recovered’ by camp, he’s got a long ways to go. ACL’s are the hardest to come back from. Ask anyone who’s suffered the injury. ANYONE. Even Kevin Colbert has come out and said it’s not promising.
There are many players on this team who will bust their butt, contribute in a positive manner to this team and be worth the money the signed on the dotted line for. Mendenhall, unfortunately, is not there any more. Redman is, Dwyer can be, Clay might be and Batch can be…. yeah I know the irony is that Batch tore his ACL too. Well Batch is younger and has yet the time or opportunity to prove himself. He gets a mulligan in my book. It would be a bold move by the Steelers and show that they are willing to really cut the strings when they need to. Cutting Mendenhall may not save enough mula to save Hines Ward – although if he takes just the vet minimum then it’s a win win in my book.
So there you have it. Loose the dead weight. Mendenhall more than likely will get very limited time early in 2012. Then, he’ll probably get some more reps after that, but Redman will have already solidified his place by that time. So what’s the point in keeping Mendy? Sorry dude. Hate to dump you on such a low note in your career – but this is a business and smart business decisions need to be made.
Losing Ward is a bad business decision – it will leave a negative ripple effects all over the place. People will say ‘Mendenhall who?’ come October….