Chris Rainey had a solid rookie season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a good kickoff returner and his tremendous speed made him a nice prospect at tailback, especially for a fifth-round pick. He's not the kind of player you want to simply cut in the offseason.
But after Rainey's arrest in Gainesville, Fla. on Thursday morning, the Steelers didn't wait very long before letting him go. Pittsburgh cut the back after he was charged with one count of simple battery (dating violence), according to NFL.com. A police statement said witnesses saw Rainey slap his girlfriend after an argument, according to NFL.com.
Rainey denied hitting the victim, according to the story. Many teams buy time when incidents like this happen, saying they'll let the legal system run its course before any decision is made. The Steelers didn't bother.
“Chris Rainey’s actions this morning were extremely disappointing,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement on the team's site. “Under the circumstances and due to this conduct, Chris will no longer be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Rainey's past likely played into the Steelers' quick decision. He had a lot of character concerns coming into last year's draft, including being charged with aggravated stalking of a woman in 2010. That's one reason he was available in the fifth round despite a tremendous combine.
According to NFL.com's report, the argument started over Rainey's cell phone. Rainey allegedly pulled her out of a vehicle, according to the police report. The police report said he slapped her with an open hand, then chased her down. Multiple witnesses confirmed the incident according to the police statement.
NFL teams are in a sticky spot with incidents like this one. Rainey could have definitely been a contributor to the Steelers for years to come, and he hasn't been convicted in the case. The team felt the hassle wasn't worth it.