Todd Haley was brought to Pittsburgh in 2012 for many reasons, among them to establish the run. And his vision for the Steelers backfield most certainly included David Johnson, who was moving to fullback, and Jonathan Dwyer along with Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman.
- Now all four are gone.
Redman of course was cut mid-season after opening the year as a starter. Mendenhall departed for Pittsburgh West following Bruce Arians and has since retired. And Jonathan Dwyer has followed in his tracks while David Johnson will try his luck on the West Coast with San Diego.
Steelers Nation Again Experiences the “Sucking Sound” of Free Agency
Free agency has been a fact of life in the NFL for 20 years. And it is a testament to how well run the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise is that fans below, their late 20’s have little memory of free agency as a time where the Steelers lost talent that they’d developed.
- Since the opening of Heinz Field, free agency was largely a spectator sport in Pittsburgh
Certainly, Kevin Colbert made his moves such as bringing in Jeff Hartings and Ryan Clark. But the Steelers MO has been to resign their own players and let the likes of Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder bid themselves into oblivion.
- But in the 1990’s free agent exoduses were an annual rite of passage in Pittsburgh.
Leon Searcy, Neil O’Donnell, Chad Brown, Ernie Mills, and Willie Williams were only a handful of players that the Steelers drafted and developed only to lose once they hit the open market.
- Something similar is happening again, albeit not to the same degree.
At the close of business on NFL Free Agency’s second day, the Steelers had lost Dwyer, Johnson and Al Woods.
Of the three, Woods is the most problematic, and he’s been discussed elsewhere. Johnson’s lose amounts to a small surprise. Johnson certainly did not get big money thrown at him, and he has been injured for both of the past two seasons.
However, Johnson was blossoming into a solid number 2 NFL tight end. Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth have the Steelers no 1 and no 2 tight end spots locked down, but Johnson certainly could have given David Paulson a run for the third TE slot, and if it came down to blocking, Johnson would have won hands down.
- But Johnson likely found the new start and limited signing bonus which he would not get in Pittsburgh.
Dwyer’s case was more interesting, simply because the Steelers have no running back under contract with NFL experience behind Le’Veon Bell. Felix Jones could be resigned, but of the two Dwyer was the better back.
But Dwyer follows Bruce Arians to Arizona, where he’ll try to succeed where Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, and Clark Haggans failed before him – namely delivering more for Pittsburgh West than he did for the Steelers.
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