2023 Free Agents Analysis: RB Jeremy McNichols – Restricted

Player: Jeremy McNichols

Position: Running Back

Experience: 3 Years

Free Agent Status: Restricted

2022 Salary Cap Hit: $480,000 (split salary from $1,035,000 on the Reserve/Injured List)

2022 Season Breakdown:

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t sure who they would have behind starting running back Najee Harris in 2022. Harris was coming off a Pro Bowl rookie season and was one of the true workhorse backs in all of the NFL, but they had plans to move away from that from the very beginning of the offseason.

It turned out to be Jaylen Warren who would emerge from the pack and take a considerable load off of his shoulders. That proved to be much needed given his training camp foot injury, which hampered him for much of the year.

Jeremy McNichols was one of the many backs looking to compete for a spot on the depth chart, though, even if he didn’t last long. A veteran with over 500 offensive snaps under his belt since 2017, he was signed just as training camp was getting underway, but he suffered a shoulder injury very early on.

Less than a week after he first signed, he landed on the Reserve/Injured List and stayed there the entire season. In most cases for depth players with relatively minor ailments, teams will work out injury settlements that allow the player to be waived immediately and compensated for the time he would be expected to miss due to the injury.

In some cases, a team’s decision to keep a player on reserve all year can be taken as a sign that they want to make sure they keep his rights moving forward. There’s no reason to think that’s the case with Nichols, however.

Free Agency Outlook:

We only have two players left to talk about after this, both exclusive rights free agents, and one of them was already re-signed. McNichols is the final unrestricted or restricted free agent for the Steelers left to talk about, and I would imagine most of you either forgot he was ever part of the team or don’t even know who he is in the first place.

Suffice it to say that the Steelers are obviously not going to be putting any type of restricted tender on him, the lowest of which would cost over $2.5 million. There is no particular reason to believe that they would be in any type of hurry to offer him even a minimum contract.

We don’t even know if he’s healthy. The shoulder injury that landed him on the Reserve/Injured List may have been a serious one, but there has been no reporting on it. He spent the entire year on the list, however, the Steelers never reaching an injury settlement, so it’s possible that he had to have surgery.

Even if he is healthy, there’s a fair chance he’ll be on the market for a while. Maybe even until training camp, when they first signed him last year. Until then, they’ll probably look elsewhere to see what their other options are for running back depth this offseason behind Harris and Warren.

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