The release of running back Chris Rainey following his Thursday arrest down in Florida came quickly and it now leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers without any running backs under contract for 2013 as we sit here in the middle January.
The release of Rainey, however, won\’t make the running back position any higher of a priority in the April draft than it already was heading into last week as both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will be restricted tendered as previously planned, and Baron Batch will also be exclusive rights tendered. While there might be a slight chance that Redman could be signed to an offer sheet by another team once the free agency period begins, the Steelers would still have the right to match it.
Over the course of the next few weeks the Steelers will sign a few running backs to reserve/future contracts in order to give them bodies to work with during the mini camps. This is the usual process, only this time you might see a few more added at the position than you normally would at this time of the year due to the lack of numbers currently under contract and being as Batch is rehabbing his surgically repaired arm.
The Steelers already were likely planning on Rashard Mendenhall not being in Pittsburgh next season as he will surely test the free agency waters once the signing period begins in the middle of March. Rainey? He was used very sparingly on offense during his rookie season and recorded all of 162 total yards on offense on just over 150 offensive snaps. To think that his role in 2013 was going to grow considerably had he remained on the roster is foolish.
Yes, the Steelers most likely will draft a running back in the first three rounds of the 2013 draft, but the position will not be escalated in priority like many would have you believe just because Rainey was released.