The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Does the number three running back position need to be upgraded?
The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t currently have a whole lot of quality at the running back position under contract for the 2017 season, though they should be resolved fairly shortly one way or another depending on what sort of deal or offer they decide to give All-Pro Le’Veon Bell.
After that, however, the depth chart doesn’t look all that sorted, and it seems about as likely as not that the Steelers may not re-sign DeAngelo Williams, instead looking for a new backup running back in the draft, or even with another modest signing in free agency.
The team hasn’t had a great deal of success with the third running back either, which for most of the past two years has been Fitzgerald Toussaint. They did already retain him on a veteran-minimum contract as an exclusive rights free agent, but that is no guarantee that he makes the roster if the Steelers have an opportunity to improve the spot.
While Bell may have been dealt a couple of injury blows in 2014 and 2015 that were of the random occurrence variety, it does seem at least reasonable to speculate that the groin injury that knocked him out of the AFC Championship game could be attributed at least partially to wear and tear due to his extensive workload down the stretch.
Williams’ health, or lack of it, through most of the second half of the season played a role in that, with Toussaint seeing very little touches, but with Bell’s groin injury, they may be more willing to entertain the idea that he should be given more snaps off, as he hardly came off the field.
The draft and free agency will provide the Steelers the opportunity to explore their options in improving their running back group. Bell is obviously on the top of the depth chart, but the rest of it is yet to be determined.