Recent reports are now linking the Pittsburgh Steelers as being expected to show interest in soon-to-be unrestricted free agent running back Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers. That report just goes to show you that anyone can write nearly anything on the internet and get away with it.
#Packers running back Aaron Jones is expected to receive heavy interest from the #Dolphins, #49ers, #Steelers, and #Bears. Plenty of other teams will have interest, but those four are teams to keep a close eye on. Green Bay would still like to re-sign him as well.
— Evan Massey (@massey_evan) February 5, 2021
While the Steelers certainly could wind up adding a running back this offseason at some point, and most likely via the draft if it were to indeed happen, I can nearly guarantee you that Jones won’t be in their sights.
In case you have been hiding underneath a rock for the last few months, Jones is expected to be the top unrestricted free agent running back on the market come the start of the 2021 league year in March. Pro Football Focus has him rated as such and even speculated a contract for him.
According to PFF, they have Jones signing a four-year, $46 million contract with the Miami Dolphins this offseason with $25 million of that deal guaranteed with $15.5 million of that being fully guaranteed at signing. That averages out to $11.5 million per season and even if PFF were $3 million too high, the Steelers are not going to sign any running back to that kind of money this offseason.
The Steelers are currently roughly $31 million over a 2021 salary cap number of $175 million. Obviously that number quickly shrinks to $21 million over should the league-wide number come in at $185 million, like many are beginning to speculate could be the new possible low water mark. While the Steelers shouldn’t have too hard of a path to get salary cap compliant and beyond a little less than six weeks from now, any excess cap space they are able to create would go toward re-signing a few of their own unrestricted free agents, not outside ones such as Jones.
Should the Steelers wind up signing any outside unrestricted free agent this offseason it would likely be for just the minimum or slightly higher. The likeliest course for the Steelers adding another running back this offseason is via the draft. Currently, the Steelers have just four running backs under contract for 2021 and they are Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr., Trey Edmunds and Anthony McFarland Jr.
So, how do reports like the above get started and then get legs? In short, they are fabricated. Other sites then run with them and then the original report is treated as if it is a fact. Here’s a fact for you: Jones will not be signed by the Steelers this offseason. Go run with that one.