The Pittsburgh Steelers fully understood that they have many questions about the performance of their running backs during the 2012. The run game which was supposed to go without a hitch under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, a man who prefers a strong rushing game, was instead inconsistent and injury-plagued. Pittsburgh was held to the fewest rushing yards since 2003. The Steelers didn't make it to the post-season in 2003 or in 2012. With Steelers President Art Rooney II stating that the 2013 team would most likely not feature a much slower and less-agile Rashard Mendenhall. Jonathan Dwyer, the most consistent Steelers rusher in 2012 didn't want to wait until his restricted free agency status pushed him into the open market, so he signed back up to be a preeminent rusher in 2013.
On Tuesday, Dwyer was scheduled to become a restricted free agent. When the Steelers placed an original round tender on the sixth round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft worth $1.323 million, it would have allowed Dwyer to test free agency markets; the Steelers would then get the right to match any offer other teams made. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Dwyer didn't want to wait for that eventuality or test the waters.
Prior to the 2012 season, Dwyer had been given very little attention on the field. In 2012, Dwyer started 6-of-13 games and had 115 carries for 623 yards and two touchdowns. Even though he led the team in carries, it was the lowest leading rushing total since Merril Hoge had 165 carries for 610 yards in 1991. How Dwyer performs in 2013 will ultimately seal his fate with the Steelers. If he plays well, the Steelers may offer him a new contract. If not, the Steelers can let him go during next year's off-season without a hitch.
With all of the transactions and rumors of transactions floating around, Dwyer took an approach of showing loyalty to the team and foregoing how he feels about his worth. It's it the kind of honesty the Steelers have been known to favor.
To be successful in 2013, Dwyer will need to show up at training camp in well-conditioned shape and ready to go. He'll also need to overcome the sometimes judgmental attitudes of fans; he can't afford to listen to the hype or the snipes. If he can put the team and wins above his own personal interests, it looks good that the Steelers will want to keep him around a bit longer. Dwyer needs to be more than an artist; he needs to be a skilled master of the running back domain.
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