2016 Steelers Pre-Free Agency Positional Review: Running Back

We’re now into March, and that means that the new league year will be upon us shortly, and when that time comes, the floodgates to free agency will open—not that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be major players when it comes to signing outside free agents, as they tend to keep themselves busy in retaining their own players.

But before we get to that period, it’s time to take a look at the Steelers’ offseason roster as it appears to be shaping up as we hit the start of the new league year, at which time the team will have a couple of dozen players hitting the open market.

As with every other team, the Steelers have already made some roster tweaks, signing several players to Reserve/Futures contracts, tenders, and other sorts of contract, while also making some deletions after they waived a handful of players, so here is a position-by-position look at how the team looks heading into free agency.

Position: Running Back

Total Positional Figure: 7

Additions: 3

Deletions: 1

Players Retained:

Le’Veon Bell: In spite of the fact that he has missed time due to injury in each of his first three seasons, Le’Veon Bell has emerged as arguably the best and most complete running back in the league—one they will likely try to get a long-term contract done with this offseason.

DeAngelo Williams: DeAngelo Williams had a bit of a career renaissance at age 32 last year in place of Bell for suspension, and then injury, during which he rushed for over 900 yards and tied the league lead with 11 touchdowns. He is an excellent number two for 2016, but beyond that is up in the air.

Fitzgerald Toussaint: The inexperienced Fitzgerald Toussaint emerged last year after spending most of the season on the practice squad, starting two postseason games due to injury, but with a very costly fumble in the fourth quarter of the Divisional round. He is the third running back as of now, as he is under contract for 2016.

Jordan Todman: Jordan Todman is not under contract for 2016, slated to hit free agency when the new league year hits. He was passed on the depth chart by Toussaint, but he showed some talent in his time on the field, albeit briefly.

Players Added:

Rajion Neal: An undrafted player in 2014, Rajion Neal was signed to the practice squad after Toussaint was promoted to the 53-man roster. He’s bounced around four other practice squads previously. He was signed to a Reserve/Future contract after the season.

Abou Toure: After Williams’ injury, Abou Toure was also added to the Steelers’ practice squad in January. Another big back like Neal, Toure was signed as a rookie minicamp invite by the Colts, then spent time on the Cardinals’ practice squad. He was given a Reserve/Future contract as well.

Daryl Richardson: Daryl Richardson was a seventh-round pick from Bell’s draft class as a smaller back with explosive traits. He rushed for 475 yards on 98 carries as a rookie, surpassing Isaiah Pead on the Rams’ depth chart—Pead was briefly on the Steelers roster in 2015—but by 2014 he was bouncing around practice squads. He has shown a propensity to be a receiving option as well.

Players Deleted:

Dri Archer: The diminutive Dri Archer was one of the fastest players to ever enter the league, but that hasn’t done him much good. A virtual non-contributor on offense, he just began making headway as a kick returner in 2015 before he was released. He is now under contract with the Jets.

Offseason Strategy: There is no urgent need to do anything to address the running back position this offseason with their three primary backs already under contract and three additional backs brought in. They could decide to re-sign Todman, or sign or draft a comparable player, to add competition, but the top of the depth chart for 2016 is quite secure.

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