Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Benny Snell
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: To state the obvious, Najee Harris is the Steelers’ new featured back, which reduces whatever role Benny Snell may have otherwise had if Pittsburgh waited deeper in to the draft to address the position.
If you came into the 2021 season hoping to see more Benny Snell Football, don’t count on getting your wish. The Steelers have just added an every-down back to their roster who is probably going to play…let’s just say, a lot of those downs.
While it’s the furthest thing from surprising that they drafted a running back early — nor even that they specifically drafted Najee Harris in the first round — it is nevertheless the obvious stock evaluation for today to note that Benny Snell’s value is now officially ‘down’ with the team’s latest move.
The Steelers have been very vocal this offseason about their desire to address the running game, and to do so at all levels, including at the level of personnel, in terms of who is carrying the ball, as well as who is blocking for those carrying the ball.
They made up their minds about making changes here, showing no interest in retaining three-year starter James Conner, who acknowledged that he never received an offer from the Steelers after signing a very modest deal in free agency.
Snell is their next ‘featured’ runner up. There is certainly a scenario in which he could have had more playing time in 2021 if the Steelers ultimately ended up waiting until the third round or later to address the running back position.
But with Harris now (or soon to be) in the building, the pecking order is quite clear. Harris gets the workload he can handle. Snell will spell him from time to time when he needs rest. And Anthony McFarland will fill a role as well.
We may not actually even be able to confidently assume that Snell makes the 53-man roster. Pittsburgh did sign Kalen Ballage as a free agent, who could theoretically compete for that number two role. If the Steelers decide that they don’t need four halfbacks on the roster, he could end up on the practice squad, or elsewhere.