Why Is There No Interest in Free-Agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2013

Nov 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) sits on the bench in the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Despite early interest and a clean bill of health, running back Ahmad Bradshaw has barely registered on the free-agent market since the completion of the NFL draft. 

As Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com wrote in his top Post-June 1st free agents column, there has not been a single report of interest in Bradshaw since late April. 

The drying out of the free-agent running back market and continuing worries about Bradshaw's durability are the most likely culprits for keeping Bradshaw unemployed. 

The New York Giants somewhat surprisingly released the 27-year-old running back in early February, mostly in a cap-clearing move. Despite several injury issues, Bradshaw still went over 1,000 yards in 2012. 

Interest from other NFL teams followed his release. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on March 17th that both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers had expressed interest. A week later, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Bradshaw was en route to visit Pittsburgh, and he eventually had a physical with the team.

Though it appeared as if Bradshaw was going to be a member of the Steelers, he left the visit without a contract. 

In early April, two more teams appeared to be closing in on Bradshaw. 

Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post reported that the Broncos took a long look at Bradshaw and were considering a short-term deal. Later, Pro Football Talk learned that the Cincinnati Bengals had developed an interest, with a potential visit happening down the road. 

Nothing came of either landing spot. 

The crushing blow to Bradshaw's market came during the NFL draft. 

Each of the four teams originally interested in Bradshaw used a second-round pick to address its running back needs. The Steelers took Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, the Packers took Alabama's Eddie Lacy, the Broncos took Wisconsin's Montee Ball and the Bengals took North Carolina's Giovani Bernard. 

Suddenly, a once-rich market for running back-needy teams evaporated. 

Bradshaw hasn't had a team reported to be interested in his services since. 

Silva hypothesized that the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be two potential landing spots down the road, but neither has expressed any public interest as of June 3. The Colts have Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Delone Carter as an unimpressive trio of backs, while the Bucs have former Giants assistant Mike Sullivan on staff and may still need a backup for starter Doug Martin. 

Durability likely remains a central reason why teams passed on Bradshaw before the draft and why teams may continue to do so in the near future. 

In late April, Pro Football Talk reported that Bradshaw received full medical clearance to return to football activities. No stranger to foot problems, he underwent surgery on his right foot in January that replaced a screw installed in 2009 with a larger one, per Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger. Multiple breaks in the foot necessitated the larger screw.

While the 10-week recovery period for the surgery has now passed and medical clearance has finally been granted, the operation still serves as a bright red warning flag for NFL teams. 

The most recent operation marked the third surgery to Bradshaw's right foot, and he has also had surgeries on his left foot and both ankles since entering the NFL. Going under the knife that many times—especially on the feet and ankles—is a troubling sign for a still-young running back. 

Running backs remain a dime-a-dozen in the NFL, and 27-year-old options who have obvious durability issues (and who would likely refuse a short-term minimum deal) aren't in high demand. That is especially true following the draft, when teams fill out their rosters with young, cheap talent. 

While continuing to get back to 100 percent physically, Bradshaw may have to wait until an injury arises this summer to find a suitable home. 

Such a strategy worked for Cedric Benson last August, when the Packers caved on signing the veteran back after injuries devastated their backup. By Week 1 of the regular season, Benson was Green Bay's starting running back. 

Such is life for a veteran running back with Bradshaw's medical circumstances.

As the owner of two 1,000-yard seasons and 30 rushing touchdowns over the last four years, Bradshaw would almost certainly still be in New York without the durability problems.

After the NFL draft all but eliminated a number of his landing spots, Bradshaw is now relegated to playing the waiting game to find a roster spot for the 2013 season.