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Steelers 2018 Free Agent Market Watch: The Running Backs

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BTSC takes a look at the top free agents at each position and how they may or may not be a consideration for the Steelers. Here are the running backs.

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Le'Veon Bell is the hottest free agent that could move in 2018, but again there is much doubt on whether he will be available to the rest of the NFL. Most people believe that the Steelers will again place the franchise tag on Bell, assuring him great money at $14.5M and another year in Pittsburgh, however its still very complicated. Bell has expressed that he does not want to play under the franchise tag again and may hold out or retire if tagged. Bell wants a long-term deal, but giving him one could greatly handcuff the Steelers financially. Thus the Steelers have a big-time decision to make.

Like James Conner in 2017, the Steelers could draft a young back in April's draft. However, there are some quality backs that the Steelers could take a flier on via free agency to act as an insurance policy for Bell.

BTSC continues to look into the 2018 free agent class with a closer review of other available rushers. But as always, salary cap issues could make signing a lot of players difficult.

Dion Lewis - New England Patriots

I would love to see Lewis back in the city and stadium he called his collegiate home. Although Lewis is historically injury-prone, he is dynamic with the football. Last year, he stayed healthy all year and gained 895 yards and averaged 5.0 YPC. Lewis also was on the receiving end of 32 balls for 214 yards. He'd be a great compliment to Bell at the right price.

Carlos Hyde - San Francisco 49ers

Hyde is another guy that can't stay on the field, but relatively shines when healthy. Hyde had eight TDs, 938 yards and a YPC of 3.9 in 16 games last year. If Bell leaves, he could be considered.

Isaiah Crowell - Cleveland Browns

His 152-yard performance against the Steelers in Week 17 of 2016 is proof that Crowell could go off at any time. In 2016, Crowell rushed for 952 yards, averaging 4.8 YPC and had seven touchdowns on the campaign. But in 2017, Crowell struggled behind an improved line. No. 34 rushed for 841 yards and only scored twice. Crowell is very shifty and changes directions well for a big back. Crowell could be a possibility only if Bell departs, but I don't see him in a complimentary role.

Rex Burkhead - New England Patriots

New England used Burkhead perfectly at the RB position last year and he became more dangerous of a weapon as he got healthier. In only 10 games, Burkhead averaged 4.1 YPC and had 264 yards on the ground and 254 via the air. The 5'11" slasher from Nebraska lacks power, but has good footwork and is adept at moving the chains and finding the end zone. He had eight TDs in 2017 combined. Burkhead could be a good compliment to Bell, but I see him getting paid elsewhere.

LeGarrette Blount - Philadelphia Eagles

I truly don't expect Blount to ever be asked back to Pittsburgh, nor would I presume he'd want to return. Blount's tenure in Steel City remains a stain on the team. His arrest with Le'Veon Bell for smoking weed in a car was one blemish, but his insubordination against the team because of limited carries behind Bell was more serious. There were reports that Blount was a locker room cancer and some feel that he orchestrated his own release to return to New England. However, others feel he was greatly mismanaged in Pittsburgh. The guy was money the past two seasons as he was an integral part of championships for both NE and Phily.

Fullbacks

The Steelers seem to not be out on the market and pretty set at the FB position with Pro Bowler Roosevelt Nix just signing a four-year extension. So, Fullbacks need not be listed here, but since I don't adhere to convention...here are the top FBs available.

Zach Line - New Orleans Saints

Anthony Sherman - Kansas City Chiefs

John Kuhn - New Orleans Saints

Mike Tolbert - Buffalo Bills

Other Notable Free Agent Running Backs:

Jerrick McKinnon - Minnesota Vikings

Alfred Morris - Dallas Cowboys

Jeremy Hill - Cincinnati Bengals

Thomas Rawls (RFA) - Seattle Seahawks

Orleans Darkwa - New York Giants

Jamaal Charles - Denver Broncos