The Pittsburgh Steelers finally woke up from their free agency slumber to make a couple key moves at the end of the first week of the free agent frenzy. However, the news across Steelers Nation has almost solely been geared around Ben Roethlisberger's extension, salary cap impact and overall value of his new deal. What is being overlooked by many is the signing of veteran running back DeAngelo Williams.
Williams' signing is strangely similar to when the Steelers brought in LeGarrette Blount a year ago in hopes of being the veteran presence to help lead and guide young running backs like Le'Veon Bell and Dri Archer to future NFL success. In the meantime, all Blount did was nearly fight a Steelers assistant coach in training camp, have a hand in Bell's DUI arrest in August and eventually depart the team after walking off the field in the waning minutes of a Monday Night Football victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Blount went on to win a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, and while the wound from the dagger sticking out of most Steelers fans' backs certainly has had time to heal, it also is where Williams' journey begins. Williams doesn't carry the baggage which Blount did before entering the Steelers' South Side facility. Blount's attitude was questioned leaving the University of Oregon, he had played for multiple NFL franchises in his brief career and was labeled as a 'loose cannon' nearly from the start. Williams background tends to trend on the other side of the fence.
Williams has been nothing but a model citizen and the face of consistency for the Carolina Panthers, the team which drafted him in 2006 and where he remained until signing with the Steelers. He was an extremely productive running back in a two-back system alongside Jonathan Stewart, and never once grumbled about getting the ball enough, unlike a certain back in 2014. Plain and simple, Williams knows his role before donning the black and gold.
His job will be to carry the torch for Bell during his likely suspension to start the 2015 season, and although some question Williams' durability, he has proven he can produce when given the opportunity and healthy. Before an injury plagued 2014 season, Williams has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry since he entered the NFL, and the most carries he has received in a season was 273 in 2008 when he rushed for 1,515 yards on the season.
The Steelers hope they won't need to lean on Williams to carry the ball that often, but Williams is certainly capable of handling the load if called upon. With Williams in the fold, the Steelers will look at their depth chart at the running back position with a greater sense of stability than they saw at the end of the 2014 season. Bell as the premier back, Williams to back up the young stud running back and Josh Harris and Dri Archer battling for a helmet every Sunday.
People may pick apart the acquisition pointing at Williams' lack of receiving yards and history of nagging injuries, but one thing Steelers fans should be happy about is a player joining the organization with a sense of team, and not a sense of self. Williams is no LeGarrette Blount, and that is something we can all be thankful for.