The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best running backs in the league. A healthy Le'Veon Bell is a dual threat and productivity machine, generating yards through the air and on the ground. He is also a phenomenal blocker. His back up, DeAngelo Williams had a strong 2015 season, filling in for Bell during his suspension and injury later in the season.
Should the Steelers consider signing free agent Arian Foster? Bryan DeArdo of 247 Sports says, "Yes." BTSC contributor Dani Bostick says, "No way."
Bryan DeArdo's Point: The Steelers should sign Arian Foster
Yes, I know DeAngelo Williams had a very nice season in relief of Le'Veon Bell last season, but adding Foster would infinitely give the Steelers the best group of running backs in the NFL.
First, it would be a cheap signing, as Foster is still on the open market and apparently isn't getting many looks. Like Williams, Foster is north of 30 years old (he turned 30 during the off-season), but also like Williams, he doesn't have the bulk of career carries that most running backs his age have already accumulated. He didn't become a starter until he was 24, the same age Le'Veon Bell will be when he begins the 2016 season.
While Foster has had some injury issues the past three seasons, he's one of the best backs in football when healthy. He carries a career average of 4.5 yards per carry, won an NFL rushing title in 2010, and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2010 and 2012. He's also a dynamic back, with 249 career catches with 14 receiving touchdowns.
Lastly, Foster has the intangibles that the Steelers are looking for. An undrafted rookie back in 2009, Foster is a fighter who fought to make the Texans roster before becoming their franchise back for the next half decade. Now, Foster is looking to shock the football world again, and, entering his eighth season, is hungry to prove the critics wrong while helping a team win a championship, something he was unable to do during his time in Houston.
Yes, DeAngelo Williams did a very nice job last season. And yes, I would consider myself a fan of his. But isn't football (and competitive sports) about trying to be the best you can be? If that's the case, why wouldn't the team consider signing one of the best backs over the past decade? It makes sense to me, and hopefully, it will make enough sense for the Steelers, who should at least give Foster a look during the next month of free agency leading up to the NFL Draft.
Dani Bostick's Counterpoint: No way! The Steelers should definitely not sign Arian Foster
The Pittsburgh Steelers have no need for Arian Foster. In fact, running back is one of the Steelers most reliable position groups. Le'Veon Bell is one of the best running backs in the NFL in terms of productivity and blocking. In six regular season games, he totaled 556 yard, averaging an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. In 2014, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, totaling 1,361 yards on the ground and 854 yards through the air, truly impressive statistics.
A suspension caused Bell to miss two games at the start of the season and an injury sidelined him during Week 8. Backup DeAngelo Williams did a phenomenal job in his stead, racking up 907 rushing yards and 367 receiving yards, averaging 4.5 yards on the ground. He had 170 yards against the raiders, 134 yards against the Colts, and 100 yards against Baltimore. Williams performed reliably and was an enthusiastic, optimistic, energetic addition to the Steelers franchise.
Behind Bell and Williams is relative newcomer Fitzgerald Toussaint who, aside from a costly fumble in the postseason, did a fine job after Williams became injured. One reason the corps of running backs is so strong is because of position coach James Saxon, who used to be Adrian Peterson's running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings. Not only are the Steelers acquiring talented players, they are also developing them into elite athletes thanks to Saxon.
There is no need to even mention Foster's age, injury history, or his disappointing performance in the games he did play for the Texans in 2015. The Steelers can relax and enjoy the depth they have at running back. DeAngelo Williams is more than adequate as a backup. In just one season, Williams has proved his worth to the Steelers organization in terms of on-field productivity and leadership. There is absolutely no reason to question his ability to perform well in 2016.
A better strategy would be to draft a late-round running back or bring in undrafted free agents to evaluate.