The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mewelde Moore earlier this offseason to a three-year deal. Presumably, Moore was signed to be the Steelers’ primary return man, and their third down back. Moore probably also took note of Willie Parker’s health, and figured he’d be the first option in the Steelers’ backfield should Parker go down.
Moore has returned 74 punts for 768 yards with two touchdowns and 26 kickoffs for 503 yards. He also has 116 receptions for 1,093 yards with three touchdowns. These are good numbers for a returner, and a third down back, and obviously were the reasons that Pittsburgh signed Moore.
Then Rashard Mendenhall was available.
The Steelers’ drafting of Mendenhall surely must have been a surprise to Moore, since it more than likely was a surprise to the Steelers themselves. No, Mendenhall likely isn’t going to return kicks, but he still brings many attributes to the table as a third down back. It’s likely that Moore will start off with this job, with the Steelers working Mendenhall in as the season progresses. Mendenhall will also share the workload with Parker, but you can be sure he’ll be sharing that duty with Moore as well.
In other words, Mendenhall would be stealing Moore’s job, outside of the return game.
Mendenhall is a rookie, and that brings a certain unknown to the situation. All signs do seem to be pointing towards the Steelers bringing Mendenhall along as Parkers partner in the backfield. I’m sure that’s a job that Moore felt would be his if he earned it. It still may be. Still, if Mendenhall produces the way many expect him to, Moore could be the odd man out of the backfield. and we haven’t even talked about Najeh Davenport.
Moore will be a huge asset to the Steelers this season, even if it’s only as a return man. You do have to wonder if Moore would have signed a three-year deal with a team that would ultimately draft a running back in the first round.
With all of that said, Pittsburgh is a better team with Mewelde Moore on it. Not only does he give the Steelers a legitimate thread in the return game, but he also gives the Steelers an option should they need one at running back. I can safely tell you that things probably would have been different in last year’s playoffs had the Steelers had Moore as an option with Parker out. Mendenhall is just a rookie, and it will take time for the youngster to earn his stripes. Combine that with Parker’s health issues, and Moore should get ample time in the backfield over his three-year contract.