Steelers Unlikely To Sign A Big Name Running Back To Replace Batch

clinton portis southeast jeromeThe news that rookie 7th round running back Baron Batch might have torn the ACL in his left knee today is sickening. Batch was having a great camp and was a near lock to make the 53 man roster as the 4th running back behind Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore. While Moore was certainly being pushed by Batch, it is unlikely he would have pushed him out of his roster spot. There is still no official word on the severity of the Batch injury, but early rumblings are he will be lost for the season.

After the news has now settled in, the speculation has started that the Steelers will immediately be in the market for another big name free agent running back to take his spot. Names like Clinton Portis and Tiki Barber have surfaced almost immediately on Twitter as possibly replacements. Personally I do not see this happening for many reasons. First off the Steelers only carried four running backs last year as Mendenhall, Redman and Moore were all regular hat wearers. Jonathan Dwyer was the 4th and he spent all but one game on the inactive list. His lone game action came against the Browns in week 17 as Moore was allowed to sit out to heal up for the play-offs.

Unless the Steelers have plans on cutting Redman and Moore, there is no need to sign a veteran back to sit on the inactive list. Backs like Portis and Barber are long past their days of being special teams contributors and that is another reason why they do not fit. Combine that with the fact that both would likely cost $1 million at the minimum and you can see why I think it will not happen. Portis would be better served waiting for a starter to go down. No way he signs for the minimum.

Although Batch was likely to make the 53 man roster, he would have been in a weekly battle for helmet as it would rely on how he plays on special teams. He was rumored to kick some looks as a kick returner, but now we may never know for a while what those contributions might have been.

What the Steelers will do now going forward is to further examine Dwyer, John Clay and James Johnson. If Batch has to be placed on injured reserve, I could see another undrafted type back or low level castoff being brought in to take his place. The Steelers will watch the transaction wire over the coming weeks and see if they can upgrade the 4th spot that way. That back will likely have to be special teams worthy and will have to come on the cheap as well for the cap strapped Steelers to be able to afford him.

There are a few out there that have yet to find a home during free agency and they include Patrick Cobbs and Mike Hart. They both should come very cheap and at least have some gameday experience. A few more backs will be cut loose as the weeks go by, so the Steelers have no reason to rush. Do not expect a big name as there is no need for one. Condolences to all you that wanted Southeast Jerome in the black and gold.

  • Slipt75

    You Read my mind, Mike Heart would be a superb pickup in my opinion. You know you cant get on the field with Payton Manning if you cant pass block. I personally thought that he outplayed the former colts 2nd round pick Donald Brown when given the chance, I was surprised they didn’t keep him. I used him in a Deep fantasy league last year for a couple games and paid off big time. *crosses fingers*

  • Dtodd

    The Steelers have a perfect fit right in their backyard, Tobias Robinson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 5’11, 210, 4.5, great hands, awesome kick return skills. He was switched to CB his senior year to fill the shoes of Akwasi who was drafted by cowboys last year in 3rd round. Tobias solves all problems with good RB play and special teams.

  • Tinyb66

    I’ve also seen the name Brian Westbrook. A guy of his experience and pedigree would be great in theory, but as you say, it doesn’t make sense to bring in someone like him for $1m or more to be your 4th RB. Moore already knows the system and is proven.

  • Mrbear38

    Would be great to see Willie Parker back on the squad.

  • Chad

    I agree that Portis and Barber are not options however with the loss of Batch Pittsburgh now needs a 3rd down back. Moore is serviceable but is no longer explosive. I would like to see them bring in Steve Slaton who is said to be having a great camp so far this year. Slaton would bring some explosiveness to the running game that has been lax forever!

  • Ricksteelers55

    We should wait after the final cuts….St-Louis Rams currently have Steven Jackson,Carnell Williams and Jerious Norwood,I think one of Williams/Norwood will be cut and both of them can play 3rd down back….might be interesting