The same stage was set in 2014.
The Steelers needed a complimentary back to provide insurance on young running back Le'Veon Bell, and it seemed, in March, the best option would be a dual-headed approach of additions in the draft and free agency to help accomplish that goal.
The Steelers elected to sign veteran RB LeGarrette Blount in free agency but didn't address the running back position in the draft (they did sign undrafted free agent Josh Harris, who would eventually make the team's practice squad).
That decision turned out to be a regrettable one.
The Steelers look to do the same thing, hosting veteran DeAngelo Williams Friday, just a few days after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. Williams does not carry with him the same red flags Blount did, but those are replaced with injury concerns. That's more than likely what his visit will be about; checking him out, seeing him run a bit.
Most importantly, the Steelers have the opportunity to look him in the eye and be straight about their situation: Williams will not get the ball some games. While Bell is facing a suspension that could leave him out of anywhere from one to four games in 2015, Williams' highest and best use this season will be to prepare himself in the event Bell is cut down down by a low hit in the open field.
When Bell goes down, so does the Steelers' offense, as their 2014 division championship-season came to an abrupt end as a confused offense failed to produce anything close to what it had when Bell was healthy.
This will not be a running-back-by-committee. This is The Le'Veon Bell Show, and if Williams is ok with that, and will provide the same effort each day as if he's going to be the 20-plus carry running back he was earlier in his career, he's the right player to sign.
Blount may have received a different message. Blount is still in his prime. Williams may not be, but given the right situation, his experience and his character could be the strength the Steelers need in their back-up position.
Predicting Bell's massive leap forward from 2013 to 2014 was more blessing than curse, it did alter the Steelers' approach in free agency. Had the team known he'd go out and shatter the team's yards from scrimmage record, perhaps they wouldn't have aimed so high in identifying a back-up running back.
Now they know what they have with Bell and they have the opportunity to offer their best pitch to Williams.
The team will need Williams early in the season, then they may not need him at all. They're hoping not to need him, except to lug the rock while nursing a 20-point lead in the second half.
If Williams is cool with that, he's their guy.