One of the more surprising moves of final cuts over the weekend was the release of running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was let go by the Pittsburgh Steelers after three seasons with the team.
Despite the fact that Dwyer led the team in rushing in 2012, the combination of his $1.3 million salary and a lackluster preseason (that included two fumbles and showing up to camp overweight) was enough to earn the 24-year-old his walking papers, according to Kevin Patra of NFL.com.
That $1.3 million price tag was probably the reason that no one claimed Dwyer off waivers. Now that he's passed through them, NFL clubs are free to sign Dwyer on the cheap.
Here's a look at a few teams who could use the help.
Fans of the Cleveland Browns may find the idea of signing a former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers somewhat distasteful. However, there are a few reasons why adding Dwyer could be a good idea for the Browns.
The first (and biggest) is simple. The Browns are precariously thin at running back behind starter Trent Richardson. With Montario Hardesty on injured reserve and Brandon Jackson now looking for work, the tailbacks behind Richardson are undrafted free agents Dennis Johnson and Bobby Rainey.
Not only would Dwyer provide some badly-needed depth in the backfield, but he could also spell Richardson on some third downs. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Dwyer was the third-best running back in the NFL as a blocker last year. That trait would come in handy in obvious passing situations.
Finally, there's the added bonus that comes with signing a player from a division rival. Dwyer is intimately familiar with Pittsburgh's offense, and he wouldn't be the first guy to get signed at least partially so his brain could be picked.
It might seem a bit odd for a team that already has five running backs on the roster to consider adding another. However, it really isn't when you think about just who the five running backs the Cardinals have are.
Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams can't stay healthy. Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington are late-round rookie picks who have yet to log an NFL carry in a game that matters. Alfonso Smith is...
Well, he's Alfonso Smith.
With the exception of Mendenhall, Dwyer's resume (limited though it may be) is better than every player on that list. He also has two years of experience in Bruce Arians' offense from their time together in the Steel City.
Throw in that the Cardinals can use pass-blocking help any way they can get it (especially with rookie first-rounder Jonathan Cooper on injured reserve), and the Redbirds should give Dwyer a long look.
There isn't a team in the NFL that needs help more than the Oakland Raiders. Their roster is the least talented in the league. They're a below-average squad at nearly every position.
The Raiders at least have a talented running back on the roster in Darren McFadden. The problem is, it's virtually guaranteed that McFadden will miss time at some point in the year. He's missed at least three games in each of his five seasons.
As things stand right now, fifth-year pro Rashad Jennings would be next in line. That's not a good thing, at least if Jennings 2.8 yards a pop on 101 carries for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year is any indication.
Jonathan Dwyer isn't going to magically fix the Raiders problems. However, he'd at least add some short-term depth in the backfield for an Oakland team about to begin what will all but certainly be a very long season.
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