Wallace, Mendenhall likely done in Pittsburgh
"When you're 12-4 and a playoff team, sometimes you get mesmerized by your success and you get a little reluctant to change," Colbert said. "That reluctance to change won't occur this year after 8-8 (the Steelers' record in 2012)."
One of those changes is expected to be the departure of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace was slapped with a first-round tender as a restricted free agent last offseason, resulting in his temporary holdout in an attempt to get a long-term offer. Wallace eventually played under the first-round tender in 2012. It was expected by many that if Wallace - who is now an unrestricted free agent - were to stay in Pittsburgh, it would be under the franchise tag.
Colbert, however, told the writers that it's "very doubtful" the Steelers will use the franchise tag on anybody. "I don't think we have too many franchise players," Colbert explained. "We're not married to anybody."
After a great 2011 campaign, Wallace proved to be expendable in 2012, catching 64 passes for only 836 yards (a career-low 13.1 yards per catch). Colbert apparently does not think Wallace is worth the franchise tag, so it seems likely the receiver will hit the open market. Still possessing game changing speed, Wallace will almost certainly receive an offer that the Steelers will not be able to match financially.
Colbert was also very critical of the Steelers' running game during his meeting with the writers, stating, "that group of players didn't produce the way we anticipated they would." No one could blame Colbert for that comment, as the team was ranked 26th in rushing and squeezed out an abysmal 3.7 yards per carry (28th in the league). And as far as Colbert sees it, the lack of efficiency on the ground has nothing to do with blocking or play calling. "Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position," Colbert explained. He obviously does not consider Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, or Rashard Mendenhall to be a long-term answer in the backfield.
Mendenhall, a former first-round pick and two-time thousand-yard rusher, is a free agent this season, and the Steelers are not at all expected to attempt to re-sign him. The Steelers will likely look for a new lead back this offseason, whether it be through free agency or the draft.
The 2013 free agent class of running backs is quite thin, with Reggie Bush looking to be the best of the bunch. The Dolphins have expressed interest in re-signing Bush, and Bush has seemed open to a return to Miami, so the Steelers may want to look to April's draft for new talent in the backfield. Other free agents include Shonn Greene, Felix Jones, and Cedric Benson.
If the Steelers opt to address their backfield via April's draft, they could go with backs such as Alabama's Eddie Lacy or Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell. Both of those bruising backs would fit the smash mouth running scheme that Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin attempted to implement in 2012.
Wallace and Mendenhall, as of now, seem like locks to leave the Steelers. Based on Colbert's comments, those two could be the tip of the iceberg.