Najee Harris Hopes To Play With Current Teammates For Next Decade

As Pittsburgh Steelers’ long-time All-Pro quarterback and likely Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger rode off into the sunset last season, the franchise is undoubtedly entering a new era. As such, the team’s last several drafts will prove crucial for building a foundation for the team’s future. As the team’s 2021 first round selection, running back Najee Harris hopes to stay with the team long-term alongside his fellow young teammates.

“That’s for sure been a conversation,” Harris said when asked if there’s a sense that he could be with the team and young teammates for the next decade in Friday a press conference after practice according to the team’s website. “Because, like you said, we’re really young. Me, Pat [Freiermuth], even Jaylen [Warren], we got Dan [Moore Jr.] We’re still young, but us just keeping our head low, just keep grinding through, learning, and growing every day. I think it’ll be good to come out of it.”

The Steelers’ draft strategy in recent years, at least in early rounds, heavily addressed skill positions. That is, the team drafted tight end Pat Freiermuth, Harris, as well as receivers George Pickens and Chase Claypool. Ideally, this young core will remain with the team after their rookie contract and serve as the consistent core of the offense. This franchise’s greatest years came with this type of consistency. Tight end Heath Miller was with the team for ten seasons, receiver Hines Ward for twelve, just to name a few.

Running back Jaylen Warren and offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr are also young players with unlikely journeys to get their current role. Moore Jr, a fourth round pick who was all but expected to start the full season, wound up doing so, also receiving an endorsement from Roethlisberger as the team’s “left tackle for the future.” On the other hand, Warren accomplished one of the hardest tasks for a football player— making an NFL roster as an undrafted rookie free agent. Not to mention, he beat out running back Benny Snell for the back up spot behind Harris, and is getting a considerable number of touches.

Of course, the elephant in the room as far as names that the Steelers would like to see on the roster for the coming decade is quarterback Kenny Pickett. For a franchise that had the aforementioned Roethlisberger for eighteen years and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw win four Super Bowls, the investment of a first round pick in Pickett is hoped to materialize into the next great career.

Dynasty is a strong word in this context, but it is what the team hopes to build with this young core. In 2021, the team got the third most snaps by rookies in 2021, and is clearly moving in a youthful direction. While this comes with the downside of inexperience, it may just lead to the new normal and yield success as the young core develops.

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