Player: Benny Snell Jr.
Position: Running Back
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $1,140,517
2022 Season Breakdown:
The exact makeup of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back room was in question entering the 2022 season, at least behind starter Najee Harris. While they returned two other players from the previous season’s roster—Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr.—neither were guaranteed to make it.
The emergence of rookie college free agent Jaylen Warren threw a wrench into the mix after the Steelers otherwise failed to address the position. He quickly settled into the number two position, leaving Snell in a highly limited role beyond his usual special teams responsibilities.
He amassed just 42 offensive snaps by the end of the year, and they all came within a four-game span, including 37 over two weeks. But he stepped up when the Steelers needed him to, rushing for 62 yards on 12 carries with the game-winning touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12.
By year’s end, he totaled 90 rushing yards on 20 attempts with one score, plus two catches for 17 yards. But as has been the case since his rookie season, special teams was the core of his duties, with 284 snaps and posting a career-high eight tackles.
Free Agency Outlook:
The Steelers have their top two running backs established with Harris and Warren. After that, who knows? It’s entirely plausible that they re-sign Snell and allow him to compete for the number three job. He should likely only command a veteran minimum salary, which in his case would consist of a $1,080,000 base salary and up to a $152,500 signing bonus, which would come with a slightly reduced cap hit.
The only real consideration is whether or not he would prefer to seek another opportunity elsewhere that would provide him with a better opportunity to compete for offensive playing time. Returning to Pittsburgh, he would at best be limited to third-string duty, and if the 2022 season is any indication, that means sitting on the bench until the special teams units come up.
A 2019 fourth-round pick, he earned a bit over $3.5 million over the course of his rookie contract. He rushed for nearly 1,000 yards during that time on 275 attempts and scored four rushing touchdowns. His role was substantially reduced by 2021 when the Steelers drafted Harris, however.