Time For Steelers To Be Blount With RB Depth

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.

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

    He played for around 650K last year and was in a rotation with Ridley and others, the Patriots would like to keep this guy for sure, but if we offer him a fair contract and the opportunity to be the #2 I would hope he sticks. We need someone with experience on roster besides possibly a rehabbing LSH

    Michael Bush is still out there, but he’ll be 30yrs old before the season starts

  • T R

    Looks like MJD already agree on a 3 year deal with the Oakland Raiders…

  • Steelers12328882

    This is getting as annoying as the search for a DE was. Speaking of free agents, OLB Shaun Phillips signed with the Titans the other day, and although he’s 32 he did have 10 sacks last year and the Steelers have no depth at the position besides Moats, so I was surprised I never heard his name pop up this offseason.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    With the extra comp picks and the fact we seem to be looking at guys who were late round picks anyway I would be fine getting a rb in the draft.

    Blount as a mentor? Really?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    If you find off season sports too stressful you should find something more fun to do with your time. The annoying part is how desperate fans are to fill the roster with any thing they can find.

    Patience really is a virtue.

  • steeltown

    Yea but he got $6MIL over 2yrs with $2.5MIL guaranteed, we weren’t going to pay that for a guy that would be projected as a depth guy

  • ApexSteel

    No one said mentor he’s a back-up running back not a teacher. We’re going to draft a running back, but there is also a need for experience. We’re not going into the season with only two running backs.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    What does help guide mean to you?

    Why do we need an experienced backup?

    I’m fine with blount but fine without him. We can draft a two and pick up a roster casualty for a 3rd option.

  • ScottB

    Blount isn’t worth the trouble. I’d rather get Andre Brown.

  • steeltown

    We need to do BOTH, we have nobody but undrafteds behind Bell. We need a quality experienced backup as well as a new rookie draft pick

  • Milliken Steeler

    What trouble Scott? He hasn’t had any issues since college and is a big back with breakaway speed.

  • steeltown

    Brown has played a total of 20games in three seasons due to injury, Jennings got $10MIL from the NYG

  • PA2AK

    I don’t think it was meant to be as a mentor, but more that it is someone who has been there before. Bell doesn’t need to be the most senior rb on the team in his second year. He has plenty on his plate. The veteran presence is valuable. Not getting him won’t sink the season, but it certainly should be a high priority.

  • ScottB

    Yeah, I should have checked Jennings. My bad.

    Injuries don’t bother me if the guy isn’t going to be the lead back. MJD was injured a lot also. The rotation should keep the wear and tear down.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    People need to look into the meaning of this need word.

    We do not need an experienced back up running back.

    We need a backup and experience is nice but we need quality and affordability. Overpaying a back up because we are afraid we wont be able to find a good enough back up is a bad idea.

  • PA2AK

    Spotty memory I guess, lol

  • steeltown

    Yea but he was never a lead back, he always came in after someone was injured and twice he suffered major injury in camp and/or preseason before the season even started

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Bell doesnt need to be the most experienced back? What???

    All good reasons to find an experienced back on a minimum deal.

    All bad reasons to feel that not signing an experienced back is a problem

  • steeltown

    So no need for an experienced backup, so one injury away from going into a game with a mid-late Rd rookie draft pick and a couple undrafted players at RB… sounds familiar because we did that for a couple yrs with Redman and Dwyer and Batch and others… It didn’t work out to well, time to upgrade the position, Blount could provide “quality and affordability” at a position that is severely lacking it

    Most Teams have 2 quality RBs, some have 3, hell Green Bay has 4 nice options…. we currently have one

  • Eric MacLaurin

    So an undrafted fa with a couple of years bouncing around the league is significantly better than 5th or6th round rookie rb?

    You do know the difference between a rb and a DL in terms of learning the system don’t you?

  • PA2AK

    Well, like I said its a problem if we don’t find one, but it isn’t the end of the season. Can’t you see the tremendous value in having a quality #2 behind Bell that he doesn’t have to teach?

    Bell is only in his second year. While I think he could handle and embrace being a mentor to a bunch of 20 something kids coming out of college….I’d rather keep him focused on being the feature back in his very young career. I’d also like to have a coaching staff that is spending plenty of time with him instead of also having to coach up a sub-par group of rookies that will need to be counted on.

    You seem to think that everyone here believes this will be the undoing of the steelers if we don’t sign a vet back. I think that is far from the truth…everyone just sees the value in it, and having a player like Blount, who is also affordable for Pittsburgh,

  • steeltown

    He’s proven, he has experience, he has a career 4.7yds per avg… its an easy decision in terms of worth vs cost
    Its ok if you have something against Blount, a lot of people do, but you cant deny his value over an uproven UFA

  • AndyR34

    If we are going into the season with a rookie back-up, how is that different than going into the season with a rookie starter?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Given the desperation people display when the team doesn’t pay the asking price of every FA it might not be everyone but it is most.

    I never said don’t sign blount. I would like to get someone like that on a minimum deal. I don’t think he is worth getting into a bidding war for and the draft is absolutely a better option.

    I simply said we have extra picks and should be open to fixing the problem that way since we are looking at marginal backs drafted in the lower rounds anyway.

    Fans really get confused either with the complexity of the position or the stupidity of the players if they really fear a late round back can’t produce.

  • steeltown

    Depends on the quality or back, the talent, are we going to draft another RB in the earlier Rds?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Well shoot. I didn’t know you were privy to his salary demands.

    What salary does he want that you consider to be a good value?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You simply can’t win with rookies because they have never won before.

    Or something like that.

  • steeltown

    Hell I don’t know, he played for $650K last year, I think he’ll be affordable

  • 243546

    The RB market is drying up, which means the Steelers will probably have to over pay Blount to prevent him from looking for counter offers.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    So you are going to argue with my point that he isn’t worth more than a minimum deal based on your assumption that he will accept one even though he hasn’t accepted one yet?

  • 243546

    The Steelers need an experienced back up, in case anything happens to Bell. It’s either that, or spend a high round draft pick in the draft.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think we can get a 5th rounder that can start if bell is injured.

  • steeltown

    When did I argue anything about his contract details? All I was arguing was the need for quality backups, preferably one with experience being that the others have none

  • Eric MacLaurin

    One additional comment..

    I do see the value of a better back up. But I also calculate what else I could do with the extra money to make the decision. I believe that it would be better to draft a back up and spend the extra money somewhere else than to pay Blount what he wants.

  • cp72

    We need a power back. I am a Bell fan but he is more of a pile pusher than a true lower your shoulder bruiser. Blount can not only fill that role but could be a passable starter for multiple games if Bell gets injured. He’s a dud in the passing game but he can be a force in short yardage.

    I think the fact he averaged almost 30 yards a return last year also can not be overlooked. Thats 3 yards per return better Sanders.

  • Jollyrob68

    I like Blount and would sign him however, he might get more money from The Ravens with Rice being charged. I also like our futures backs Maysonet & Poole.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I know Bush is older, but he runs hard and, if I remember correctly, he catches the ball out of the backfield well. Therefore he could be used in short yardage and would be a good backup for a lower price. Meanwhile they can draft for the future. Dri Archer, anyone?

  • 243546

    The team spent a second round draft pick on that rookie starter, and had veteran depth behind him.

    Rookie RB’s are hit or miss in terms of production. Out of the 26 rookie RB’s in 2013, only 6 rushed for more than 300 yards. If the Steelers have to rely on a rookie back, they’re going to have to burn a much higher pick at the position, then they would if they had a proven veteran at the #2 spot.

  • dkoy85

    Man, you are impossible. Even with very logical reasons why an experienced backup is very important you continue to pick apart every little detail and try to knock everybody down a peg without giving any thought to what the other person said. You lost… deal with it.

  • Jollyrob68

    Plus we still need 2 backs as we’ve lost Dwyer & Jones is a FA. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Jonescb is resigned.

  • 243546

    You can win with rookies, you just can’t count on it.

  • treeher

    Joey Porter, Player/Coach at age 37! Go for it!

  • 243546

    I agree with you about patience. The Steelers have been patient, but there also at the point where the RB market is quickly drying up. If they have to spend money on a veteran, it would be best to pay someone who can play a role in the offense, instead of just being a back up. Blount may be one of the few guys left who is productive enough to be given a role other than certified bench warmer.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I would rather have 3 UDFA’s than Jones!!!!! Seriously. By the way guys, you are forgetting something important. Please look at good running teams, who obviously have great blocking. When backups come in there is basically no drop off whatsoever.

    When there’s a big hole to run through, Hell, even I can run through it and I’m twice their age. By the way, I’m still faster than flippin’ Felix Jones.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Thanks for your contribution.

    If this was a contest instead of a sports discussiondiscussion it would even make sense.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I agree.

    But they don’t have to. That was my point. We can use the pick and are better off going that way if blount gets too expensive.

  • steeltown

    I hope everyone realizes we have ONE proven (2nd year) RB on roster… we need to add a couple of RBs before training camp. One will almost certainly be added via the draft, but that doesn’t completely solve the equation even if you see Alvestor, Poole or Maysonet as a #4, it would still be wise to add an experienced back to the roster, which is what the Steelers intend to do.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    “It’s an easy decision in terms of worth vs cost”

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You are really going to try to say I was arguing that quality back ups are bad ?

  • Jeff

    Not only would Blount be our #2 running back, he’d also end up being a primary return man on kick offs. I welcome this signing with open arms.

  • steeltown

    Im just saying that relying on a late Rd pick or a UFA to be a #2 isn’t always problem solved, it doesnt always work out as we’ve seen time and time again. We need 2-3 more RBs, one will be added via the draft, it would be nice for one of the others to be somewhat proven and experienced

  • cencalsteeler

    This should be a no brainer signing. A vet that comes fairly cheap, has an impressive career average, and a kick returner, too.

  • ApexSteel

    That’s what I think you don’t get. We’re still going to draft another back whether we sign Blount or not. But that back will probably be someone like Dri Archer or De’Anthony Thomas. Not an every down back, but a home-run threat.

    I also don’t think we should over spend, but I wouldn’t be opposed to spending more than the veteran minimum either.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    What we draft willwill be determined by what they can do in FA.

    If Blount gets too expensive and nothing velse interesting come through I think they will draft someone capable of starting. Not a stud but you get a very nice back in the lower 4th or 5th.

  • 243546

    Relying on a rookie would mean spending a high round pick. Rookie’s are too hit or miss. Only 6 of the 26 rookie RB’s cracked 300 yards last year.

  • 243546

    You “can” get a nice back in the 4th or 5th, but you’re more likely to get a back who won’t provide any value as a rookie.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah I totally agree. Just surprised I never heard his name mentioned. Until he signed I’d totally forgotten about him.

  • Jason White

    I have been on the Dri Archer bandwagon for a while. Very versatile player. That little dude isn’t afraid to go up and make the catch and damn he can fly. His breakaway speed is nuts. He’ll run through a crowd of defenders and he is so fast that he will get right through untouched. Very Dexter McClusterish except faster. They got it wrong with Chris Rainey but I hope they consider Dri Archer.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Isn’t it always the hope that your starters don’t get injured and that your rookies have a year to learn?

    Isn’t it always more likely that you get more out of a higher pick or a vet?

  • Steelers12328882

    I said annoying, not stressful. We need a veteran RB. That’s without question, and as the article did point out, the “market is quickly drying up”. I’m pretty happy with the way I spend my time, but thanks for your concern.

  • steeltown

    I actually had as well

  • wilsonmjw

    He’s young, productive and has a mean streak. If he leaves Pittsburgh without a contract it would be a massive mistake by our FO.

  • NimbusHex

    I really liked Blount when he was with Tampa Bay, and always thought he was the kind of RB the Steelers should take a look at. If he can find a way to get back to his rookie form this would be a really good pickup.

  • SteelerCop

    Ummmmm, Steelers have no money to sign Phillips…and Moats is going to probably be our starting inside LB…Sooooo, we will rebuild through the draft and keep a few backups from last season. Signing Blount is biggest concern right now…then we need another back up DE! Go STEELERS!

  • SixburghFan

    My concern – whether we pick up a free agent or draft a rookie – is that the backup running back needs to be able to pass block. If Blount can do that, then fine, get him. If a rookie can do it as well or better, then get him. My guess is that a veteran running back will be better at picking up a team’s pass blocking scheme than a rookie (though there are probably exceptions). A backup running back absolutely needs to be able to do two things: carry the load if the starter gets injured and pass block. If he can catch, I’ll consider that a bonus.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Relax, man. If we add Blount, draft a RB in the middle rounds and then add 1 or 2 UDFAs to compete for the fourth RB spot, we’ll be more than ok. Backup RBs are a dime a dozen these days.

  • steeltown

    I am very relaxed and I completely agree

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Last year I was thinking about that maniac WR who was really raw, and the Vikings picked him up in the first. OK, so he is not going to be a stud WR any time soon, but big deal. I saw the highlights and what do you know! For a big man, he has an unbelievable change of pace and cutting ability. I’m watching the tape and going ….”No way! This guy looks like one of those small guy soccer players the way he changes direction.”

    No way the Steelers were going to pick him but Minny did. He did not do too much in the passing game, but he ran out of the backfield, made a few catches and returned kicks. At the end of the year, he ends up with maybe 6 TD’s or something. And some were game-changers. A nice little weapon to have at your disposal for the future. And what happens if he becomes a stud WR in the future.

    Basically, they only gambled on him for his athleticism. You, know, that Cordarelle Patterson guy.

  • Robert Loveless Reid

    Dri wont last long in the afc north….. every defense is tough against the run!

  • pittsburghjoe

    Archer reminds me of Chris Rainey, minus the battery and stalking charges and general lack of NFL ability.

  • Steelers12328882

    Ummmm, my point wasn’t that we could or couldn’t afford him. It’s that no one ever mentioned him.

  • vinnie12

    All of these meltdowns I’m reading are making me laugh! L.S.H. may be ready for the opening game, Bush is still unsigned so he is a possibility, I’m wondering why they don’t take a look at Ray Graham! He should be healed from his knee injury by now. And he is an explosive back. Plus, other teams have to make some more moves before the end of camp, so there could be a R.b. who is a cap casualty on the horizon. Way too soon to panic!

  • Toddy Bravo

    Couldn’t agree more. We have a clearly defined starter, which is most of the battle at the RB position. A cheap vet backup, a mid round draft pick and a couple UDFAs will solidify the position just fine.

  • Toddy Bravo

    The more I’m reading and learning about Blount, the more I’m disappointed with the prospect of getting him. He consistently fumbles about 3 times/year and has next to no pass catching ability out of the backfield. He had better be a short yardage and blitz pickup beast.

  • Matt Manzo

    Anyone know when the meetings over? When can we expect to hear a yes or no?

  • ApexSteel

    Yes if the world was perfect then all our starters would remain healthy throughout the season and rookies would sit back and learn, but the world’s not perfect. So yes we would be better off with the vet that had 772 yards and 7 tds than a 4th/5th round back up. And like I said we’re probably drafting one anyway and we wouldn’t want to waste two picks on rookie running backs.

  • SteelerCop

    Oh ok…yeah…Phillips did sneak on the free agent list…but Moats has his work cut out to play OLB for the Steelers…the opening is at ILB…I hope they can groom Spence to play that position…but the Steelers Organization say Spence is plays best at the ILB position that Timmons plays…so he may be Timmons back up…and since the Steelers article stated that Moats is an ILB that can play OLB…I think they want him to fill the void at ILB. Especially with Woirlds and Jones starting at OLB.

  • Steelers12328882

    I agree. I like Moats and think there will be some competition at ILB.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Isn’t it the case that Mike Tomlin has actively stated repeatedly this offseason that one of his primary objectives is to make sure that his roster was better insulated against injury than it was last year?

  • Matthew Marczi

    It would be a mistake to equate pass-catching ability with number of targets.