Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin likes the idea of having an experienced running back behind second-year Le'Veon Bell. But it isn't a requirement.
Except it is, more or less.
Tomlin spoke to the media Sunday while attending the league meetings in Orlando, Fla., and spoke on a variety of subjects. One of the more attention-getting topics was their current pursuit of veteran running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and LeGarrette Blount.
"I felt good about (the meeting with free agent Maurice Jones-Drew). We are open to it (adding an experienced back). I’ll stop short of saying ‘have to,’ but we need to add quality depth to that position, whether it’s through free agency or the draft.
"Le’Veon Bell is a talented player but a young player. It would be good to get a been-there, done-that type of guy in the room to maybe help him with growth and development. But I don’t view it as a necessity, quite honestly, because Le’Veon is a very grounded and humble young man and is open to getting better, and is a good listener."
Having a veteran back up a player light on experience is a common decision made by teams, particularly when the young player looks to figure heavily into the production of the team. Bell only played 13 games last season, and had 289 touches in that time. Providing a back-up option not just in case of injury, but just to provide a few plays' rest is critically important, and not something that should be left to a stable of rookies - drafted and undrafted.
It seems likely the Steelers will seek a complimentary back via the draft as well as in undrafted free agency, but signing a veteran appears equally likely. The fact the Steelers are waiting for Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert to return from the league meetings to meet with Blount seems like it could mean they're waiting on Jones-Drew to test the market a little bit.
It's a position to keep an eye on the remainder of the offseason and into training camp.