Le'Veon Bell is the hottest free agent on the market for 2017, but there is much doubt on whether he will be available to the rest of the NFL. Most people believe that the Steelers will place the franchise tag on Bell, assuring him great money and another year in Pittsburgh. While that's almost a certainty, there could be life in Pittsburgh without "Juice".
What is not a certainty is the return to Pittsburgh of Deangelo Williams. After two more than solid years here, Williams is a free agent and probably not likely to return as a backup. Most see the Steelers drafting a young back in April's draft. However, there are plenty of quality backs that the Steelers could take a flier on via free agency.
BTSC continues our look into the 2017 free agent class with a closer review of available rushers.
1. Isaiah Crowell - Cleveland Browns
His 152-yard performance against the Steelers in Week 17 is proof that Crowell could go off at any time. In 2016, Crowell rushed for 952 yards, averaging 4.8 YPC. The three-year vet also had seven touchdowns on the campaign. Crowell is very shifty and changes directions well for a big back. He may be in line more for a starting gig, but would make a fine addition to the RB corps in Piittsburgh.
2. Rex Burkhead - Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati has a wealth of talent at the RB position, but towards the end of last season, some fans were calling for Burkhead over Jeremy Hill. In 2016, Burkhead averaged 4.6 YPC and had 2 TDs. The 5'10" slasher from Nebraska lacks power, but has good footwork and is adept at moving the chains. Burkhead could be a good compliment to Bell.
3. Latavius Murray - The Raiders
Murray is a big back with sub-4.4 speed that can catch the ball out of the backfield well, evidenced by his 33 grabs last season. In only 14 games, Murray had 733 yards (4.0 YPC) and 12 touchdowns last year. Murray would be a decent fit, but doesn't seem like an option should Bell return.
4. LeGarrette Blount - New England Patriots
Relax. This guy won't be asked back to Pittsburgh, nor would he 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. While many teams would welcome 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns, too many bridges have been burned to welcome Blount back to the Burgh.
5. Mike Gillislee - Buffalo Bills
Gillislee was on the Steeler radar when he was coming out of Florida in 2013. They made a pretty good choice that year in the person of Lev Bell. As a backup in Buffalo, Gillislee had 577 yards and nine total touchdowns, averaging 5.7 YPC. The four-year pro filled in ably for LeSean McCoy when injured and could be a solid replacement for Deangelo Williams, should he not return.
Although the Steelers seem to be not out on the market and pretty set at the FB position with Roosevelt Nix, there are talented players available at this unheralded position.
1. Kyle Juszcyk - Baltimore Ravens
Probably the best at the position right now. The 26-year old excels at blocking, can catch the ball out of the backfield and is an intelligent runner. Should be a priority to remain in Charm City, but Steeler fans would love to see the Pro Bowl FB out of the division.
2. Patrick DiMarco - Atlanta Falcons
Mainly a blocker and nothing else, DiMarco opened a lot of holes for the dynamic running duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
3. James Develin - New England Patriots
Another of the league's best is this SB champ. Develin is a one-dimensional back, but was a major factor in paving the way for Blount's 18 in '16.
Other Notable Free Agent Running Backs
Tim Hightower - New Orleans Saints
Eddie Lacy - Green Bay Packers
Joique Bell - Detroit Lions
Fozzy Whitaker - Carolina Panthers
Andre Ellington - Arizona Cardinals
Chris Thompson - Washington Redskins
Christine Michael - Green Bay Packers
Terrance West-RFA - Baltimore Ravens
Jacquizz Rodgers - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Darren McFadden - Dallas Cowboys
Chris Johnson - Arizona Cardinals
Reggie Bush - Buffalo Bills
Lance Dunbar - Dallas Cowboys
DeAngelo Williams - Pittsburgh Steelers
C.J. Spiller - New Orleans Saints
Zach Line - FB - Minnesota Vikings
Marcel Reece - FB - Seattle Seahawks