Thanks in no small parted to the predicted, and predictable, roster turnover that will be coming in free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers arguably find themselves with more ‘holes’ to fill on their roster than they have in some time, or at least in most years in recent memory.
While they overall had a talented roster last season—and they will be getting some talent back, like Devin Bush and Zach Banner, whom they lost to injury, assuming that the latter re-signs—they are also expected to lose a lot of players, likes running back James Conner, who has talent, but also a difficulty in staying healthy.
Even with Steelers president Art Rooney II recently coming out and saying that Conner is a player that they would be interested in keeping around if it were feasible, the odds of that actually happening are pretty low, and really, there are few players hitting free agency an owner is not going to say that about.
It will be difficult enough for the team to retain some of their more affordable key players hitting free agency, let alone bringing in talent from the outside to bolster some of their weak points, but if there is one position that Pro Football Focus feels they should be targeting on the open market, it’s at running back, and they specifically have Chris Carson in mind.
Pittsburgh’s rushing offense was the league’s worst this season. As much as you can reasonably place much of the blame on the offensive line as well as the struggling passing game, the Steelers feel like a team that will want to pursue an upgrade at running back to address it.
Few players have run the ball consistently harder than Chris Carson since he entered the NFL, averaging 3.3 yards per carry after contact and breaking 147 tackles on 744 carries over his NFL career.
If you don’t have an offensive line that is going to get you easy yardage consistently, then you need a running back who is going to get hard yardage consistently. One can certainly argue that a back like Carson has a better track record of doing that than anybody the Steelers currently have or have had on the roster.
Over his four-year career, Carson has record 3270 rushing yards on 715 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt, with 21 rushing touchdowns. He has also added 775 receiving yards on 101 catches with another seven touchdowns. He has scored nine touchdowns from scrimmage in each of the past three seasons.