How pitiful was Pittsburgh’s rushing-attack last season?
- Jonathan Dwyer, the team’s leading rusher in 2012, gained only 623 Yards on the ground!
- Overall, the Steelers finished 26th in Total Rushing Yards (1,537) and 28th in Rush Yards per Carry (3.7).
- Pittsburgh’s Offense scored 8 Rushing Touchdowns over the entire 2012 campaign.
While many, including myself, believe that the Steelers will try to address their need at Running Back through the Draft, it appears that members of Pittsburgh’s Front Office are interested in adding Free Agent Ahmad Bradshaw to their roster right now.
The soon to be 27 year-old Running Back was released by the Giants early this Spring as New York’s brass wanted to clear his 2013 base salary ($3.75 million) off of their books. I for one cannot blame the Giants for their decision as they have David Wilson waiting in the wings, and still have other more important Free Agents to sign to long-term deals (Victor Cruz).
This is not to say that Bradshaw was not an effective Running Back for “Big Blue” over his six-year career, and could serve to be a viable Free Agent pickup for Pittsburgh. In terms of production on the ground, the 5’11″ 195 lb. Back topped the 1,000 Yard mark in two of the last three years (2010: 1,235 Yards, 2012: 1,015 Yards), and was New York’s leading rusher in all three of those seasons.
Bradshaw also proved to be quite the effective weapon in terms of scoring Touchdowns for the Giants as well. Overall, Ahmad scored 30 Rushing Touchdowns over the last 4 years, and was a viable threat in New York’s passing game as he hauled in 125 passes for 1,033 Yards and 2 Touchdowns during that span.
What could make Bradshaw a particularly smart pickup for the Steelers is the fact that he is familiar with Pittsburgh’s new Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell Jr.. Bicknell Jr. was the Assistant Offensive Line Coach in New York from 2009-2011, and it was during those seasons that Bradshaw enjoyed some of his best years as a Running Back. Bradshaw’s familiarity with Bicknell Jr. and the Zone-Blocking scheme would give him a leg up over his competition at the position, and also give the Steelers a veteran player who could hopefully shoulder most of the ground-attack load.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh must take caution with a player like Bradshaw due to his injury history. Although the Running Back is considered to be one of the toughest players at his position in the N.F.L., he has nevertheless dealt with foot and ankle problems throughout his career. In fact, Bradshaw is just recently coming off of some surgery on his foot. Although it appears that Ahmad will make a full recovery, Pittsburgh’s brass should also be wary of how much that the Running Back could cost their cap-strapped franchise if they decide to sign him.
If the Steelers can sign Bradshaw to a two-year deal worth somewhere between $5 to $7 million with chances to earn production bonuses, it would be a very “low-risk, high-reward” type of acquisition. In the event that Ahmad wants a long-term contract, Pittsburgh might be better off hedging their bets through the draft process on a younger prospect with less of an injury history.
I know that I will definitely be interested to see how strong of a push Pittsburgh makes for Bradshaw this offseason. At only 27, the former Giant could still have another two to three effective and productive seasons left in him if he can stay healthy. Thus, the Running-Back-starved Steelers could be compelled to acquire a player like Bradshaw who is familiar with the team’s new Offensive Line Coach, and might still have some effective football left in him.
Players Contract Info. Provided By: Spotrac.com