The Pittsburgh Steelers are still in search of a veteran free agent running back to pair with their promising second-year starter, Le’Veon Bell. But the running back market is quickly drying up at the same time.
Former Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, perhaps the most significant name left on the market at the position, signed a one-year contract yesterday with the Miami Dolphins.
Meanwhile, former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is set to head west to meet with the Oakland Raiders, and there is a strong sense that he likely won’t leave without having signed a contract.
The Steelers met with Jones-Drew over a two-day period without reaching an agreement, but the two sides remained in contact, and head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed earlier this week that signing him was not outside the realm of possibility.
Prior to meeting with Jones-Drew, the Steelers intended to meet with Green Bay Packers running back James Starks, but the night prior to his visit, he re-signed with the Packers on a two-year deal.
And that was after former Steelers sixth-round draft pick Jonathan Dwyer chose to sign with the Arizona Cardinals and former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians rather than stay in Pittsburgh for an assured backup role.
That leaves us here on Friday, March 28, with former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount set to visit.
Let’s be blunt, here: there’s no reason Blount should leave the South Side facilities without having signed a contract.
While Tomlin did not rule out the possibility of securing “quality depth” at the running back position through the draft, it was clear that his desire is to add a player with veteran experience to supplement and help guide the 22-year-old Bell.
Blount may represent the best value for veteran experience left on the market, and outside of his ball security concerns, he brings with him a fairly impressive resume in terms of efficiency with a career 4.7 yards per carry average.
The Steelers have already failed to acquire two running backs that they have targeted, and Jones-Drew appears set to be a third. Blount should not command a substantial contract.
As part of his trade to the Patriots last offseason, he agreed to play for a veteran-minimum contract. He played in a running back rotation with Shane Vareen, Stevan Ridley, and Brandon Bolden. Should he join the Steelers, he would certainly be the backup to Bell.