The Pittsburgh Steelers will play host to free agent running back DeAngelo Williams today, and it seems as though there’s a pretty good chance that he ends up signing, if his Tweet yesterday is any indication, saying that he hopes to “have a new home tomorrow”.
Despite the fact that he will turn 32 next month, the fact that he has spent much of his career in a complementary system in Carolina with Jonathan Stewart suggests that he should have less wear and tear on his body than the average running back in his age.
Now, that doesn’t mean that he should be expected to take on a starter’s snaps with regularity. He’s also coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to six games, though he only missed one game in the previous three years.
In fact, Williams is likely at a point in his career in which he understands that he is no longer the every down back, but a player like Le’Veon Bell would be a great one to be able to spell.
Last season was the first time in his career in which he averaged under four yards per carry; he only had 62 rushes for 219 yards, and average of 3.5 yards. But Panthers’ line was not in good shape last year, which made it difficult to run behind, particularly early on, and the injuries crept up on him immediately, from opening—on which he had 14 carries for 72 yards, 5.1 per.
I think it’s safe to say that Williams would enjoy the opportunity to run behind a better run blocking offensive line, which the Steelers can offer him. Bell averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season behind the line’s best overall performance in several years, and the whole unit is returning.
Of course, Bell won’t be out there for the first two games of the season, so having an experienced veteran in the backfield would be an asset. A player like Williams should have a nice combination of affordability and reliability that could get a deal done by the time his visit in Pittsburgh is over.
But that’s just step one, in my mind. You don’t just sign a 32-year-old running back and tell yourself that you’ve fixed the issues that you had at running back a year ago. I still think the Steelers address the position again in the middle rounds of the draft to find a complement to Bell that can be there for years to come.
The convergence of talent is there at the running back position this time, so it would seem to make sense to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire that talent when the opportunity presents itself.
I think it makes little sense, after all, to count Dri Archer as your third running back. And the Steelers won’t be carrying six wide receivers this year, so his roster spot can be taken from there. With Bell, Williams, Archer, and a rookie, I think the Steelers could finally feel comfortable with where they are at the position. It’s been a while since they’ve been able to say that.