James Starks Would Be A Fitting Candidate To Replace Jonathan Dwyer

After it was announced that former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer signed with the Arizona Cardinals, we speculated that, based on the contract numbers, it seemed likely the Steelers didn’t have much interest in retaining him.

Dwyer contradicted that speculation yesterday, saying that he had an opportunity to return to Pittsburgh, but preferred the opportunity for playing time that he would have with Bruce Arians in Arizona after Rashard Mendenhall’s retirement.

If the Steelers did indeed want to retain him, and that that threw their plans somewhat askew, then it’s no surprise that we hadn’t heard any interest from the team in the free agent market at running back until yesterday.

Now that they do need to rebuild the stable of running backs behind Le’Veon Bell, however, the Steelers intend to have a look at former Green Bay Packers running back James Starks, whom Steelers fans should be familiar with.

Starks was the starter for the Packers during their 2010 Super Bowl run, which ended with a victory over the Steelers on the world’s biggest stage. Starks also received plenty of playing time against the Steelers late last season after Eddie Lacy was injured.

Despite rushing for 493 yards on 89 carries last season for 5.5 yards per tote and a career-high three touchdowns, the Packers do not need him back, though it’s unknown whether or not the two parties have talked.

In addition to drafting Lacy last season, who was the Offensive Rookie of the Year, they also drafted Johnathan Franklin. They also have DuJuan Harris on the roster, who has performed well for the Packers. That’s already a lot of running backs for a passing team.

Starks would be quite a nice replacement for Dwyer as the complementary back behind Bell. He has maintained a 4.4 yards per carry average over 322 carries, totaling 1427 yards and five touchdowns.

He also has an all-around game, catching 45 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown. The Packers have also frequently used him on third downs and in pass protection in the past with moderate success.

While Dwyer has over time become a reliable pass protector, his ability as a receiver has always been wanting going back to his college days, and he did nothing to dispel that reputation this past season.

While Starks would obviously not be expected to see a ton of playing time behind what the Steelers clearly envision as a workhorse in Bell, the team does need a player that can come in to spell their featured runner and not let up. Starks can give the Steelers exactly that, and perhaps represent an upgrade over Dwyer. For the right price, this would be a very shrewd move, in my estimation.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    This off season is kinda funny for me…throughout the years we have certain guys we would like to see the Steelers draft and like so many of us come up way short but this off season the Steelers have at least looked at 3 guys who i had my eye on that I felt would have made good Steelers: Cam “My Momma Fight For Me” Thomas, Alex carrington and now Starks. Sometimes you just have to keep the faith. 🙂

  • steeltown

    I sure hope we can somehow get Starks under contract, I’d prefer to not bring back Felix and LSH is rehabbing. We need someone with some experience behind Le’Veon.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    As per script, the Steelers will make most of their moves after the dust has settled and the prices come down. They will pick up a couple of guys before and after june 1. These guys will usually play backup or rotational roles. That’s fine. Maybe a couple will end up starting, like Mitchell. By the way, I loved Mitchell’;s press conference. Even though he grew up a Bengal’s fan, he knew how great the Steelers were. Thus, when they called, he told his agent that Pittsburgh would be the place.

    Hopefully, every new players thinks the way he does. I can tell the way he speaks that he is confident, but not overly cocky. He also knows damn well how much he will learn from the likes of Troy and LeBeau. Excellent!

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If LSH rehab is going well, the Steelers will pick him up. He certainly has had plenty of time compared to others. If they do not pick him up, it means they think he has permanently lost his agility, and is having trouble moving side to side. If he can make it, it means 1 less draft pick and a guy that is KR capable.

  • cencalsteeler

    Sign Starks to a modest 2 year deal, and draft a rb in the latter rounds.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I was hoping for a much more physical back. I agree we need a veteran behind LeVeon. This is a big year for him. As he goes so goes our offense. Need to keep him healthy. We haven’t had a great running game in years. No problem with Starks, just gotta stay healthy. Get it done.

  • Derick L Young

    I would rather not have Blunt but Starks would solid as it gets for a back up IMO. Plus, this draft is LOADED with RB’s.

  • srdan

    I just didn’t know about his catching ability. That is a pleasant surprise, and probably a must of any RB coming into our offense.

    What about his blocking ability. I’d hate to have to bring in a RB that needs to learn that, ben has taken more than his fair share of 3rd down hits while we give time to RBs to learn to blck.

  • srdan

    About time brother!

    You can bring the Kiesel back if they resign him. Kinda like a jersey hehe.

  • srdan

    Makes sense to me. We got that kid from Florida that added a dimension to our offenese, and that was in teh fifth. (Rainey)

    The truth is RBs are a dime a dozen.

  • cencalsteeler

    Your right Srdan, rbs are not that sought after like back in the day. That’s advantageous for someone in position like the Steelers. I posted last month how I like what the Pack did last year. They grabbed Lacy and Franklin in mid to late rounds. Back in the 80’s, that would be unheard of. But, I’ll be honest with you. Rainey type players leave a bad taste in my mouth. Too small framed for the NFL, IMO. I remember holding my breath everytime Rainey carried the ball. Now, a Sproles, CJ2, Rice body type would be more of a back I’d look for.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He can do it, but he hasn’t been asked to much in the last two years. Back in 2011, he pass protected on 71 snaps and gave up a sack and a hurry.

  • steelster

    If rb’s are a dime a dozen then why are so many fans unsatisfied with the way the steelers are handling things, I mean we should be able to pickup a great backup under that theory.

  • srdan

    What do you mean by handling things? Because Rb’s are so universal and abundant, I think it’s not necessary for it to happen right away. If I am not mistaken cj2k, MJD and starks are just some of the veterans still availalble.

  • shawn

    I agree Starks or Blount would be damn good pickups

  • shawn

    regardless how LSH is doing … i dont see them picking him up … i think they can do much better and cheaper

  • shawn

    I like that … DAT or DRI