The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals have had several exciting battles recently, and NFL fans will not have to wait until the 2013 season for the next fight. Both teams need another running back, and they are both reportedly interested in Beanie Wells.
The Arizona Cardinals released Wells on Monday, as USA Today’s Lindsay H. Jones notes. Now, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley is reporting that both the Steelers and the Bengals are considering the fourth-year rusher as an option to bolster their backfields.
Either franchise would improve with Wells on the roster.
Pittsburgh’s rushing attack ranked 26th in yardage last season, while Cincinnati’s ranked 18th. Both teams’ offenses call for powerful backs who pick up yardage in between the tackles, making Wells a perfect fit.
The Steelers appear to be letting Rashard Mendenhall leave, and the former first-round pick is meeting with teams around the league, as NFL.com’s Marc Sessler notes.
The team has also brought back Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. But Redman is a veteran who is most useful as a backup, and Dwyer is a promising but unproven option.
The Bengals brought in BenJarvus Green-Ellis before last season, and he was able to gain over 1,000 yards, but his 3.9 yards per carry average was not overly impressive. He is a one-dimensional back who can do little else besides run up the middle.
Wells, at 6’2” and 229 pounds, certainly has the frame to grind out tough yardage. But he is also explosive enough to break off longer runs and be effective catching the ball out of the backfield.
He certainly has the talent to succeed and at just 24 years old, he has time to improve. But his checkered past with injuries will cause teams around the league to have concerns.
Last season, Wells had to miss eight games due to turf toe, and he has not played a full 16 games since his rookie season. But every running back in the NFL is an injury risk due to the amount of pounding they take, and the Steelers and Bengals should not let this scare them away from signing Wells.
Green-Ellis isn’t leaving Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh has retained two of its reliable backups from last season. Both teams have secondary options if Wells goes down.
Both teams also have the opportunity to bring in a former first-round pick who has not reached his prime and has a style ideally suited to each franchise’s offensive scheme.
The reward outweighs the risk for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and each team should fight to take Wells away from its division rival.