Rooney Seems To Indicate We’ve Seen The Last Of Mendenhall

Mendenhall barrels over the Pats

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m not expecting to see Rashard Mendenhall to be in a Steelers uniform in 2013.

He will be an unrestricted free agent, and while he will probably come cheap after his 2012, I don’t think the Steelers want to mess with him after his pout late in the season against San Diego.

Mendenhall was suspended for skipping the Week 14 game, and did return vs Cleveland in the finale, but again, the writing is on the wall that he’s as good as gone.

On the year, Mendenhall ran for 182 yards on 51 carries and no touchdowns.

“The season Rashard was not what we would have hope for,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told Steelers Digest writer Bob Labriola. “Obviously, we knew he was coming back from an injury so there were some unknowns there. So, without getting into the real specifics with Rashard, it’s fair to say that we are going to need a better performance out of the running back position if we’re going to be successful.

“Whether it’s Rashard or Jonathan or Isaac (Redman) or somebody else, we have to be better at that position, as well as others, but certainly at that position. In this offseason that’s something we’ve got to look at and decide how we get better and who we get better with.”

Fair statement by Rooney, and with those words, the Mendenhall Era sounds like it’s as good as done in the Steel City.

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10 Responses to “Rooney Seems To Indicate We’ve Seen The Last Of Mendenhall”

  1. DrGeorge says:

    Running backs in the NFL generally have short careers (5 years or less), except for the big power backs (Bettis, Franco Harris, Zonka). The Emmitt Smiths and Barry Sanders of the world — small fast RBs who enjoy long careers — are very rare. Mendenhall is not in that company.

    So I read the Rooney II comment as you do, Matt — Mendy won’t be back. He is a #1 draft pick who never fulfilled his collegiate promise, perhaps through no fault of his own. After his injury, he has not played as well as Redman (a UFA) and Dwyer (#6 pick in 2010), so why would the Steelers want him back? Picking Mendy #1 in the 2008 draft was an aberration for the Steelers in the first place; they typically pick up their RBs for cheap late in the draft or in free agency, precisely for the reasons described above. The team’s track record in that regard is pretty good.

    I expect the Steelers to replace Mendy with the strongest speed RB they can find, to complement Redman and Dwyer. I don’t think they will waste a high draft pick on a big name RB, because the rules have de-emphasized the RB position and a high draft pick isn’t cost effective any more. Every play off contender uses a running back by committee approach to the game these days, and I expect the Steelers will continue to take that same approach. It really doesn’t matter who starts at RB, because RBs are situational players these days, and all of our RBs will get playing time in situations that match their strengths.

    As the comments to the preceding article attest, what is crucial for 2013 is that the Steelers fix the O-line so our RBs have somewhere to run. If it were my team, I’d cut Mendy and use the money to buy the best LT available.

  2. Steve Geddes says:

    I agree with Dr George 100 per/ cent !!!

  3. Steelfan says:

    Except the Steelers can’t cut an UFA, which Mendenhall is, and they also can’t afford a left tackle salary cap wise.

  4. Dave B. says:

    Offensive line is priority one coming into 2013 . It makes no difference whatsoever who starts at running back if the line is not healthy and playing well . The Steelers offensive line the past two years has looked like a M.A.S.H unit thats been overrun . Until they get that corrected , myself or Dr. George can start at running back , and the results will be pretty much the same . In regards to Mendenhall , I still maintain that if hes fully recovered from the knee injury , hes still the most talented back on the roster . Does that mean he will be brought back ? Probably not . However , the team had better have a viable option to replace him and currently I dont think they do . Time will tell .

    • George H says:

      I think time will definitely be a big factor here. I don’t envision Mendy having suitors kicking down his dkkr for his services, so this means the Steelers will take a slight gamble and wait til after the draft and possibly into training camp to decide wether or not to retain him. The steelers will most likely address the rb situation via draft and go into the season next year will a combo of Redman, Dwyer, and the rookie. Baron Batch could possibly be a fit in the Steelers rb plans, but I’m not so sure his limited lackluster performance inspires much confidence in the FO. Possibly brought in to compete in TC. I also wouldn’t be surprised to bring in a low priced FA to compete in TC as well like last year when we thought a Joseph Addai would of been a good fit.

  5. George H says:

    Clearly I agree that the oline needs to improve. However thee aren’t too many viable options early in the draft this year, and I don’t imagine drafting a tackle early due to Gilbert and Adams. Although they have their own question marks with consistent play and injury history. They are too young to give on though, but some depth would be a welcomed addition. Now if somehow Chance Womak, the LG out if Alabama falls to us I think we pick him in the first round. However I believe that our early round draft pick will be focused defensively by the way Rooney and Co. have been talking about how the defense needs to get pressure and start making splash plays

    • DrGeorge says:

      George H., as usual we agree, but you misread my comment. I said “buy” a LT, not draft one — at least that would be my preference, as explained below.

      Ideally, we need experience at LT, a veteran with much quicker feet than Starks. It may require making a trade, and ideally it should happen well before the draft. Admittedly, that’s easier said than done, but that would be the preferred scenario.

      That would allow the team to devote the early draft to defensive picks, as you and I have recommended for some time. The D-line and the ILB positions need to be much faster, and the CB position needs upgraded. LeBeau has been given short shrift for three straight drafts. He needs better talent. This is the year.

      However, in the real world, Colbert may be forced to do the reverse. Because quality LTs are rarely available in free agency, Colbert may find it necessary to buy or trade for good veteran D-linemen instead. In that event, using the first draft pick on a premier LT for the offense (if one is available) might make sense, since quality D-linemen can be found in the later rounds.

      Either way, the Steelers must solve the LT or the D-line problem before the draft through trades or free agent signings. We don’t have enough high picks to fill all the holes on offense and defense via the draft.

      If we don’t get a stud LT at all, we will continue to field a make-shift O-line. Gilbert will be forced to play LT, even though he is better suited to RT. Adams and Beacham have yet to prove they can play effectively in the NFL. Colon has had injuries for 3 straight years and may not be back. DeCastro, because of his injury, has yet to play like a #1 pick. And Foster is too tall and too slow to be an effective OG. The lack of a quality LT forced the Steelers to bring back Starks in 2012 and forced the O-line coaches to play men out of position for the last four years. I don’t think Tomlin, Haley, or the Rooneys want to be in that position again in 2013.

  6. SBSteelers says:

    Regarding Mendenhall, during this season and having hindsight of things he’s said and done in public since he was drafted, I’m not convinced Rashard wants to play football at the NFL level. It just seems it’s not in his heart and the Steelers should not even offer a contract. Let him walk and be someone else’s headache. Having said that I’m obviously not in the locker room so this is just a gut feeling.

    As for the rest of the team not named Wallace, in Rooney I trust.

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