Felix Jones, who played well enough in a loss Thursday to the Panthers to convince the Steelers that Dwyer, the former Kell High School and Georgia Tech standout, was no longer wanted on their 53-man roster, and according to NFL.com, he cost too much. Dwyer signed a one-year, $1.323 million restricted tender in the offseason.
Dwyer cleared waivers on Sunday and now is a free agent. According to league sources, he is busy lining up workouts for this week.
Two potential destinations for Dwyer, who started six games last season, and led the Steelers with 623 rushing yards and two touchdowns, may rest within the AFC North — Baltimore and Cleveland.
The Ravens kept only Bernard Pierce as a back-up tailback to Ray Rice, but the Browns may give Dwyer the best opportunity to play and contribute early.
Cleveland lost the two primary back-ups to starter Trent Richardson — Dion Lewis and Montario Hardesty — to season ending injuries in the preseason. Another potential reserve, Brandon Jackson, was waived on Sunday.
Currently, Cleveland has only a pair of backs claimed on waivers — Dennis Johnson from the Houston Texans and Bobby Rainey from the Ravens – backing up Richardson, along with fullback Chris Ogbonnaya.
Other potential suitors may include the Arizona Cardinals or the Oakland Raiders.
Jones, a former No. 1 draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys, rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for 9 yards against Carolina, enough to earn him a spot as one of five running backs on the 53-man roster and push Dwyer out the door.
“His pedigree showed,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. “His natural instincts showed.”
The Steelers thought enough of him after acquiring him in trade just 10 days ago that Jones will begin the regular season being rotated with Isaac Redman while rookie Le’Veon Bell recovers from a small ligament tear in his right foot.
“I just came in here and tried to perform, give the best performance I could and leave it on the field,” Jones said. “I wanted to get on the field and show the coaches I still got it, I can still play, and just maximize my opportunity.”
The Steelers liked his versatility. Jones is one of the reasons he is the only NFL player since 2008 to have a 60-plus yard touchdown run, a 70-plus yard touchdown catch and a 90-plus touchdown return.
Marietta Daily Journal Sports Editor John Bednarowski contributed to this report.