Don\’t Be Surprised If Rashard Mendenhall Is Traded When Free Agency Opens

Let me start off by saying this post is mere speculation and not an attempt to take a jab at Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and his Twitter comments regarding Osama bin Laden and the events of 911. This post moves past those remarks and deals with how Art Rooney II and the Steelers organization might deal with Mendenhall and his remarks regardless of how you or I feel about them.

The Steelers organization hates to be viewed in a negative light and they try their best not to be cast in a negative spot light. In short, they want to be known as a class organization. While Mendenhall certainly is protected by his first amendment rights, it does not mean his employer, the Steelers, have to agree with his view points and it is very obvious that they don\’t. They have the right to bench, release or trade Mendenhall should they choose to and do not have to give an explanation of why, should they do any of the three.

While I do not think they will release Mendenhall, I can not rule out the possibility of them trading him, if and when free agency opens. It would not surprise me if they did. Mendenhall will turn 24 in June and is about to enter his 4th year of his 5 year rookie contract. He missed the bulk of his rookie season after injuring his shoulder against the Ravens and has only logged 585 regular season carries since being drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2008 draft. As you can see, he does not have a ton of wear on his tires and holds quite a bit a value as a running back in the NFL.

Behind Mendenhall on the depth chart sits running back Isaac Redman who had a great season in 2010 in limited use. Redman logged just 52 regular season carries in 2010 for 247 yards that equates to a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. In addition Redman showed that he had increased his conditioning as well as his penchant to pick up the blitz when needed. He also chipped in 9 catches for 72 yards and one of those catches was a game winning touchdown against the Ravens in week 13. The undrafted free agent out of Bowie State already figures to see a little increase in work in 2011 and he could probably start for several other teams around the league including the Steelers.

Also on the roster is 2010 6th round draft pick Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer looked fantastic carrying the football during the 2010 pre season, but looked lost in his in-game recognition and blitz pickup. This likely was a result of missing quite a bit of reps during training camp with a hamstring injury. His conditioning and knowledge of the game are the two biggest areas he needs to improve in during his second training camp before he will be trusted with any meaningful playing time.

Behind Redman and Dwyer now sits 2011 7th round draft pick Baron Batch. Batch is regarded as a change of pace, 3rd down back that is excellent out of the backfield as a pass catcher and has shown the ability to recognize and pick up the blitz while in college. The Steelers are hoping that it carries over to the next level so he can fill the spot on the roster previously held by unrestricted free agent Mewelde Moore. Moore also has an outside shot of being brought back in addition.

Back to the Mendenhall situation now. Despite the Steelers drafting two cornerbacks last weekend in the draft, they still need quite a bit of grooming and the longer the lockout drags on, the longer it will take for them to be more than just special team contributors. The Steelers still need to find a way to re-sign unrestricted free agent cornerback Ike Taylor or sign a veteran free agent corner as a one or two year fix. If they were to trade Mendenhall, they would free up nearly 2 million dollars in salary in 2011 that they could indeed throw Taylor\’s way. They also could trade Mendenhall for a veteran corner and likely a 4th round draft pick or later in addition if Taylor is not re-signed. It is not out of the question.

The Steelers gave away wide receiver Santonio Holmes last offseason to the Jets and did not get much in return mostly because of his pending four game suspension for violating the league\’s substance-abuse policy. That severely drove his price down. Even though Mendenhall is all over the news right now for his comments, he has never been arrested and did not break any laws by speaking his mind. He is not damaged goods and still has very high trade value to teams that might need a quality starting running back. The Steelers will not just give him away like they did with Holmes.

The Steelers will not release Mendenhall and that is just silly to suggest. If he is not traded though, he could be benched for a quarter or even a whole game to start the 2011 season. Head coach Mike Tomlin has benched him before back in October of 2009 for not having a good week of practice and not being on his details in preparation for the game against the Bengals, so you can\’t rule that out as a possibility. They could also just turn their collective heads and just continue business as usual, but I am willing to bet there is some sort of backlash for his recent remarks.

Mendenhall regards himself as a thinker. I am a thinker too and admittedly not always a smart one at that, but I think indeed there is a strong chance that Mendenhall could be traded before the start of the season and it would not surprise me one bit and it should not surprise you either if it happens.

Don\’t you just love the Steelers offseasons? There is always something to talk about and speculate year round. Sometimes I wish there wasn\’t.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

  • John

    Unless its for a top quality CB, I wouldnt do it. Mendy is a top 10 RB and if he gets dealt we should get better than just a 5th round pick.

  • david

    absurd. if benster the molester can keep his job, why not mendenhall? i get that his comments were out there, but really? nothing illegal, just in poor taste.

  • Giarc

    Listen, if they decide to trade him whatever. However, they better not get ripped like they did with Holmes.I personally think Mendenhall will get better but if they do trade him I hope they do all they can to get a 1st round pick. I realize they could not have traded him before the draft but if things were different as far as being able to deal him, as well as had this happend before the draft I would have targeted Mikel Leshoure.

  • Austin

    Absurd. Absolutely Absurd. If they trade Mendenhall they are going to get low-balled again because it looks like they are trying to dump a trouble maker. He is no such thing. He’s kept his nose clean, ran the ball hard, and has come to work.
    Half baked conspiracy theories aside, he’s a good player and makes our team a contender. If they trade him for this situation, it will look worse on the organization. He’ll come out and apologize for what he said, He’ll get reprimanded by Tomlin and reminded about his celebrity status, and this will all blow over.
    You can’t fault him for his opinions, all you can do is disagree.

  • bob

    When osama and his croanies were sitting in the cave laughing it-up when the planes were hitting the twin towers or the american soldier was beheaded and pushed down a hill, I do not recall reading or hearing any comments from Mr. Mendenhall. osama and all terrorist are cowards, hiding behind women and children when confronted by real soldiers. I hope Master Rooney sells him to Pakistan.

  • Paul

    Really!? You think he should be traded for having an objective opinion of the most controversial event in recent history? If you do than this is one of the many times your thinking isn’t smart! Does everyone in America really believe that a plane could hit a skyscraper in the top middle and make it collapse into its own footprint? I bet any money that the Rooney’s will not trade Mendenhall or even punish him for that.

  • Kalan

    Absolutely ridiculous. It would be stupid, yes stupid to get rid of Mendy because he spoke his mind. thats all he did, and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t agree fully with what he said, but i do get his point as i don’t feel that what america has been doing is necessarily in good taste. The Steelers org are not that full of themselves to always get rid of someone who causes a slight controversy in order to be perceived with class. And to say that we shouldnt be surprised if it happens is ignorant. Why must he be punished? He didnt get punished for agreeing with Adrian Peterson for saying that the NFL parallels slavery so why now?

  • Eugene Mannarino

    i would expect mendy to get a big cheer when he announced during the first game on 9/11 a big Cheer of BOOS at least from me.

  • G

    This won’t happen. Steelers don’t make knee jerk reactions. If they wouldn’t cut/trade Rapistberger they certainly won’t with Mendenhall.

  • Jim

    Paul you’re an idiot. Mendenhall should be kicked out of the NFL..piece of trash.

  • Dave Bryan

    Let’s not get into name calling folks. state your opinion & move on. Life is too short.

  • Dave Bryan

    Also I did not say he WOULD or SHOULD be traded, I said do not be surprised if he is. Please take your time to re-read.

  • Eric

    What? I will be very surprised if he is traded. I will be very surprised. Shocked. Yours is a knee jerk reaction. Are we living in the dark ages, or in some fascist society that an intelligent man cannot express his opinion, no matter how misguided it may be.

    Truth is these are human beings with lives off the football field. He did nothing illegal or immoral. Let him play football.

    Rooney was quick to distance the Steeler organization from Mendy’s comments and I will be shocked and disappointed if they punish him in any public manner. Trade him? C’mon.

  • Whatsreallyreal

    Trading him would be idiotic. The man is a football player not some great mind whose opinion we should put stock in. Anyone who lets the words of a person who means absolutely nothing to them affect their state of mind is as looney as the person making the statement. You all have friends, family and colleagues, their opinion matters; some guy who you watch play football on Sundays for part of the year opinion doesn’t or rather shouldn’t matter. Build a bridge and get over it.

  • Bill Yates

    What happened to freedom of speech, seeing past lies of the government & thinking for yourself. You go, Mendenhall! I agree with Mendenhall & think Americans in general are the ones showing poor taste for celebrating the death of ANYONE. We are all connected at the same source no matter what religion. If he gets traded for this, I won’t be a Steeler fan any longer.

  • AceYpsi

    This is nuts! First of all, #34 could be a top 3 running back in this league if we would use him correctly. The main reason for loosing the super bowl was the fact that he only got 14 carries. He is simply voicing his opinion. We need to start using his talents the right way and stop catering to Bruce and Ben. When #34 runs 25 times a game he is a top 3 back in this league. This also opens up play-action where Ben can excel. To give him the ball 14 times in the bowl and let Ben constantly look lost trying to air the ball out all the time was a disgrace. To think that we would let him go because of these comments is just as bad.

  • Ken

    “What happened to Freedom of Speech”, I keep hearing that. But actually no one is saying he can’t say what he said, so his freedon of speech is still in tact. No Fascism being used. The problem with some of you making comments is that you don’t seem to understand the concept of “CONSEQUENCES”. We all have the freedom of speech in this country, but what we DO NOT have is a freedom from the consequences of our actions or what we say. What Dave Bryan is saying is that there may be some negative consequences coming Mendenhall’s way. The NFL is a big show, and the players are the main attraction. As long as people are coming to watch the games the owners will be happy and the players can keep playing. If one player becomes too big of a negative and is causing viewership to decline then the owners will eventually remove the negative force (i.e.-the player).
    When the Dixie Chicks cut down Bush and the war in Iraq, there was a backlash against them because they were Country Singers and their fan base was predominantly Conservative. Many of their fans burned and destroyed the Dixie Chicks CD’s in response. They were free to say what they wanted to, but there will always be consequences when someone speaks out publicly.

  • KJAM40

    Let’s not mix up our freedom of speech with the freedom of one’s employer to do what is best for their organization. People are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, but they are also accountable for the backlash those beliefs and opinions may cause. The Rooney family has always stood for and by patriotism, the military, and the US Government (see Rocky Bleier, Dan Rooney as an Ambassador). To have an employee of theirs make these kinds of remarks, most certainly is embarrassing to them as an organization. Will future sponsors, dignitaries, etc., hold them accountable for this? That’s very possible. With that said, I would not be shocked nor upset if #34 is traded. You’re free to speak your mind, but you also have to realize that you represent your employer. They are not “entitled” to offer you employment, especially when your actions are counter productive to their mission.

  • eugene mannarino

    Your Right Bill so has everyone who disagrees with Mendy and some of his Idiotic statements.
    I agree he will not be traded but would not shock me either. I just hope that Mendy one day comes to NY and talk to the Familes. I don’t think there is noting wrong with celebrating the DEATH OF A MASS MURDER. Mendy i hope you are not offended when I boo you at games and root against you since like Bill Said We all entitled our Freedonm of Speech.

  • Steeler since Birth

    Many lives have been sacraficed for that freedom of speech Bill Yates, so yes speak your mind but use your mind before you speak. He should be traded! Osama got what was coming to him and hell yes I was happy bout it.

  • gregoiii

    This country is out of control, if we are to believe everything the government tells us, then we are all ignorant. thousands of people were murdered on 9/11, I’m sure Rashard meant no disrespect for the loss of life. I don’t think 9/11 played out exactly the way they told us, and we’ll never know the exact truth, kinda like JFK. Shame on this great organization if they trade him for expressing his american right of freedom of speech.

  • gregoiii

    some actions of teachers in this country have me more pissed, sending kids home because they’re wearing a flag on their shirt, washing off a flag tattoo on their face, banning the pledge.anyone read the crap thats being written in these new textbooks ? or how about our president by-passing congress and running straight to the UN on his firing of 150 missiles into Libya, who by the way, has not attacked America, the list goes on and on. maybe mendenhall needs a little sensitivity training, but so do alot of these politicians and other celebs

  • greg

    i applaud mendenhall for his courage in speaking out what he believes in and if the steelers punish him (suspension of any kind) i will lose some faith in the way this team is being run, and will sadly lose some of my fanaticism for them as well. what kind of country is it where a man can’t speak his own opinion?

    this post makes a decent case for why he could be traded, but i dont’ believe it would have ANYTHING to do with his beliefs about the value of human life.

  • eugene mannarino

    If he meant no disrerspect maybe he should have posted that and man up. I for one will not Root or cheer for him . I will boo him feverytime he tiouches the ball. MY RIGHT . I could not care if he got traded and will be a steeler fan but not a mendhall fan

  • Flash

    after the issues last year with big ben,I love my steelers…I hate anything and anybody that brings something negative to the org…that being said,those comments are better kept within…and if this brings such negative tone to the team,please by all means send Mindy else where.can’t beleive he would express such insensitive thoughts on,trade,trade!

  • Baump

    Ridiculous article. Must be writing to fill up your time. RM won’t be traded or even punished for his words. This will be forgotten in a month. As an American, I don’t understand how we have no sense of irony. We screamed when Palestinians were celebrating 9/11, but then we celebrate OBL’s death in our streets. Yes, I know we’re in the right on this, but don’t you see the appearance of it all. We should be celebrating this victory with some gravity and calmness as previous generations would have, instead of shouting “USA, USA, USA” like we’ve just won a hockey game. No moral person is that happy and exciting at another’s death.

  • Michael

    This didn’t do much to my opinion of Mendenhall–I’ve never thought he was all that good. Certainly not my idea of what a STEELERS RB should be. He’s too much of a softy like Shaun Alexander and he should be more hard nosed and determined. Oh and thanks for that key fumble in the Super Bowl. Jagoff.

  • shawn

    i think the steelers take the logical choice. itdepends on what they can get out of him.right know runingbacks are a dime a dozen that been said he’s a stud

  • David Moses Greenberg

    It would be completely ridiculous for Mendenhall to be punished or traded for his comments on 9/11. It is perfectly fine if you disagree with Mendenhall’s opinion but for the Steelers or the NFL to punish for his opinion then it completely contradicts the whole point of freedom of speech. Basically they would be saying since you don’t have the same opinion as us you will be punished. I am pretty sure that is what the whole concept of freedom of speech is supposed to avoid.