Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed James Conner to walk in free agency before drafting Najee Harris in the first round, it seems that a number of outlets are questioning whether or not third-year running back Benny Snell Jr. will be able to retain his roster spot.
Last week, CBS Sports highlighted the former fourth-round pick as the Steelers veteran who has the most to fear from the chopping block. Brooke Pryor of ESPN recently echoed that sentiment in picking him as the veteran from Pittsburgh who is the most obvious cut candidate.
Snell had moments when he looked to be the Steelers’ next primary back, most notably in the 2020 season opener against the Giants, when he racked up 113 yards on 19 carries in James Conner’s absence. But he never came close to matching those numbers the rest of the season and wound up averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with four touchdowns. In addition to drafting Najee Harris, the Steelers also signed veteran RB Kalen Ballage in the offseason. And while Ballage, who averaged 4.3 yards per carry with the Jets and 3.3 YPC with the Chargers last season, isn’t going to be fighting Harris for the starting job, he could push Snell for a roster spot.
The thing is, while they signed Ballage, I think most fans would agree that Jaylen Samuels is the veteran running back more likely to lose his roster spot, though it’s possible that both do if the Steelers decide to go back to carrying only three halfbacks in addition to a fullback.
And the most obviously vulnerable veteran has to be punter Jordan Berry. The Steelers drafted punter Pressley Harvin III in the seventh round, and I’m betting that it’s quite rare that a kicker or punter who is drafted doesn’t at least make the roster initially, regardless of how long he lasts.
Another veteran clearly on the bubble is quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was a late re-signing in the offseason. With Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph back in the number one and two slots, the team brought in former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who will challenge for the number three role. Haskins himself is technically a veteran—as much as Snell is—so one of them would qualify.
Regardless of his job security, though, it’s clear that the Steelers must see more from Snell. His second season was a disappointment within a year of underperformance from the running game as a whole. At the very least, his job should certainly be challenged, though the coaching staff still appear to be believers in Benny Snell Football.