The list of team needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers has grown sharply though the first few days of free agency. Positions like center, inside linebacker, and nose tackle immediately jump to the forefront. As these position get added to the list, it pushes some other needs further down the list.
The running back spot for example, is viewed as one of the least valuable positions in football today and will tumble down the list accordingly. We can reasonably cross the position off as one that will see major money thrown at it, and drafting one high in the 2021 NFL Draft is much more doubtful than it was a week ago.
Enter James Conner.
Yes, this name will be underwhelming to many of you as you read it. And, I agree the position is in need of an overhaul. However, Conner could be brought back at a far lower cap hit than anyone else with starting capability remaining on the market.
Speaking of markets, I haven't heard a single peep of teams inquiring about Conner’s services. Genuinely, both sides could use each other. Conner lands the only starting job he can get, and the Steelers get their starter for vet minimum dollars. It’s not like Conner isn't serviceable, he’s just injury prone. Within a revamped offensive line and new offensive system catered to running the ball and play action, Conner could have his best year yet. Let’s also not forget Conner played for Matt Canada when he was at Pitt, and thrived in that system.
The running back market itself is shaping up quite interestingly. Despite a lack of money around the league, some backups have netted themselves a solid pay day, and couple of lead guys have made their money as well. The players in-between these groups however, are in a state of flux. Of the available backs, they all come with a flaw.
Here's a quick synopsis of what the free agent market looks like right now:
Chris Carson, Kenyan Drake, Leonard Fournette
Coming Off Injury
Marlon Mack, Tevin Coleman
Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida
Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell
Limited Success Entering Year 7
Opted Out of 2020, A Big Unknown
Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Alfred Morris, Kenjon Barner, Rex Burkhead, Chris Thompson
Is he not a Buccaneer yet?
As these players continue to find homes. I think we see the Steelers make some preliminary talks with some inexpensive options. If they are to circle back on James Conner, I think they will find renewing a contract will be mutually beneficial. It would be far from the flashy signing many Steelers fans are looking for, but the Steelers would land someone familiar with the team, while spending almost no money.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers and James Conner find themselves back with one another? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.