The Pittsburgh Steelers have some tough decisions to make tin 2018, but does that include finding a better second-string running back behind Le’Veon Bell?
Regardless of whatever the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to do with Le’Veon Bell this offseason, there’s been some discussion on who the team will have as their second-string running back in 2018. While I still believe James Conner needs more time to get adjusted to the NFL game, there are some people who believe the Steelers would be wise to sign a free agent.
There are some viable options out there for Pittsburgh’s front-office to choose from this year, but none that I believe are a good fit for this Steelers squad.
Nevertheless, Bill Barnwell from ESPN gave his two-cents on a few moves Pittsburgh should make this offseason, which included signing a “receiving” back. Take a look at this blurb from Barnwell’s article below:
"Find a low-cost receiving back to play behind Bell. It’s tempting to hope that Bell will stay healthy for the entire 2018 season, but history tells us that four available months from the star running back are the exception, not the rule. James Conner barely featured as the backup last season and was thrown only one incomplete target all season. While Conner would be in line to handle the running half of a rotation if Bell went down, the Steelers also would need a back capable of catching passes and helping in pass protection. Someone like Lance Dunbar, Charles Sims or Shane Vereen could figure in for just over $1 million."
Call me crazy, but is it too soon for us to say Conner isn’t able to catch the football out of the backfield? Remember, in his senior season at Pitt, Conner caught 21 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Just because the Steelers didn’t throw him the football in 2017 doesn’t mean he’s not capable.
With a new offensive coordinator and some decisions pending with Le’Veon Bell, I think the best option moving forward is to stay with Conner. The Steelers are already dealing with a tough salary cap situation this offseason, which means signing a “specialty” back isn’t necessarily in the plans, especially since they have even more uncertainty in their defensive secondary.
At the end of the day, teams sign free agents to help them take that “next step” towards a championship. Needless to say, I don’t believe signing a “receiving” back would help Pittsburgh accomplish that goal whatsoever, especially given the fact they have a player like James Conner already on the payroll.