2021 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Keep 3 Or 4 RBs?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense, and multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quote with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Will the Steelers keep four halfbacks on the 53-man roster again?

One of the questions that I have struggled with throughout the offseason process regarding the 53-man roster has been whether or not the Steelers will keep three or four halfbacks, in addition to fullback Derek Watt. It’s what they did last year, and my sense is that they want to do it again, but I struggle to work it out on my own 53-man roster predictions (personal biases are hard to relinquish).

In terms of position numbers, there is only so much flexibility without going extra light on a position or two, and it’s even more of a burden for a team like Pittsburgh, which carries three quarterbacks routinely. But this is a team that could easily carry seven defensive linemen, and /or 10 linebackers, though it seems as though more than 10 defensive backs will not be necessary.

I am as yet undecided what my final 53-man roster prediction is going to look like. I’ve been trending toward seven defensive linemen, which is going to have to reduce the number of linebackers kept, and I already have only three halfbacks making the team.

But Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff have plenty to like about Benny Snell, whether the fans do or not (opinions seem to be mixed, but trending negative). He is a special teamer who takes pass protection seriously, and that’s a valuable commodity deep on the depth chart. Sitting here today, I don’t have the answer to this question. Or at least a part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

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