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Breaking Down the Roster w/ Free Agency Coming: QB and RB

With free agency upon us in a few days, it’s time to start looking at the roster, and the tweaking that will be done. Here we go with a breakdown of the QB and RB spots:


Ben Roethlisberger
Byron Leftwich
Dennis Dixon
Charlie Batch

This is not a real position of need for the team, but the fact that Leftwich and Batch are free agents does add some interest as to the long-term plan of the backup spot. The team would love to get Leftwich back, as he was very good when called upon in spot duty in games vs the Redskins and Browns. I wouldn’t be shocked though to see him depart with a decent deal where he could challenge for a starting spot. As for Batch, his best days are behind him, but the team loves him, and they have said they would like him back as well. Dixon is a project, and I would like to see more of him in 2009.

As for players that could come in if Leftwich and/or Batch go, a couple of names that could be of interest:

Dan Orlovsky
– Started seven games for the Lions, but wants out to get a chance to start. Once he finds that he won’t be starting anywhere, I could see him fitting in nicely as a backup in Black and Gold.

Joey Harrington – Last seen with the Saints, he’s been around (7 years), and has never done all that much, but again, we’re talking about a spot where hopefully we won’t see all that much of him as the backup QB.

Kyle Boller
– In five years with the Ravens he started 42 games, and had a decent year the season the Ravens won the AFC North. Again, think backup here, and a vet that can possibly come in a fill a role if needed.


Willie Parker
Mewelde Moore
Rashard Mendenhall
Gary Russell
Carey Davis

Parker is the unquestioned leader of this group, and while he had an up and down year with injuries and such, there’s no mistake who the feature back is in Pittsburgh. I would like to see more of a healthy Mendenhall, who is coming off a broken shoulder. Moore was a player of great importance and the kind of free agent that paid off in a big way. Russell is a short-yardage back who needs to prove his worth from the one-yard line, and Davis is a quality fullback when the team runs a two-back set.

Free agents that could be of interest to the Steelers in this area:

Tony Richardson
– He’s a real fullback and that is what the Steelers might be on the lookout for if they want to get back to running the football like they did in the Bettis Era. The Jets will do what they can though to keep Richardson, as they know his worth.

Rudi Johnson – A former thorn in the Steelers side when he was with the Bengals, Johnson was with the Lions last season, but will be out on the open market and could be an interesting signing for the Steelers if they want a decent veteran back.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jay

    February 24, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Okay, I disagree on some points emphatically such as, Davis is not a quality fullback, period. He does not block well and when he gets his hands on the ball he’s usually not going anywhere. And other points I only disagree on partially such as FWP: yes, our feature back but has gotten by on durability and speed and (prior to this past year) a good run blocking line so far in his career. He does not have good running back vision; and you can’t use the number of yards he’s amassed over the years a retort (because, like I said, speed, speed, speed and, lots of carries, lots of carries, lots of carries). The NFL is going young (Fred Taylor, although older than FWP, was cut recently, they’re talking of drafting a first round back in New York Jet land b/c Jones is getting up there—I think he’s only like 2 years older than Parker, maybe 3, Rudy Johnson was let go, Kevin Jones, McGahee should be let go, LJ in K.C. is declining, LT in S.D. as well, they’re looking for a compliment to Westbrook in Philly, Deuce Mcallister cut, Alexander washed up and so is Edgerrin James and Jamal Lewis.). Now, I don’t think the Steelers would ever do this but I say trade when the stock is highest. FWP’s stock is higher now than it will ever be from here on out. This obviously makes no sense if you don’t have Mendenhall waiting in the wings AND the opportunity to pull from this deep crop of backs this year. But, like I said, the NFL is going young at RB and it is the one position that gets old quick in the league due to the wear and tear. Let’s look at the backs who stormed the NFL last year: the young combo of Rice and McLain really helped McGahee look good in Baltimore, Lenwhale White and Chris Johnson in Tennessee-both young, Jones Drew-young, Ronnie Brown-still young, M. Lynch-young, Sproles-young, Slaton-young, Adrian Peterson-young, Marion Barber/Felix Jones/Tashard Choice-all young, Matt Forte-young, Kevin Smith-young, Ryan Grant/Brandon Jackson-young, Brandon Jacobs/Ahamd Bradshaw-young, Norwood (young) and Turner (prime), Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart-young, Reggie Bush and that other guy who came on for the Saints-oh yeah, Pierrre Thomas-young, Stephen Jackson-young, Frank Gore-young, HIghtower-young…There was at least one exception to this and that was Thomas Jones but he ran behind a GREAT offensive line (coughfaneca)…Point is, I have no problem getting rid of Parker for another young back with better running back vision to team up with Mendenhall, Moore and Russell. It would save money (especially since one of the only ways to do this would be to throw Foote, Simmons and Parker out there for a high second round pick) and, I believe, add some fresh looks to our running attack that will now have backs who have better vision and skills than FWP. Yeah they won’t have the speed he does but, oh well, Mendenhall is pretty fast.

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