Buy Or Sell: Anthony McFarland Jr. Would Make A Suitable No. 3 RB

With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense. Both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew.

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: Anthony McFarland Jr. would make for a suitable third running back.

Explanation: The 2020 fourth-round draft pick hasn’t had anywhere close to the career anybody has hoped for to this point, but he was closer to reaching his potential last offseason, arguably, than before. He only lost out in the numbers game to the emergence of Jaylen Warren. But if Benny Snell Jr. isn’t re-signed and the Steelers don’t add another running back, he would be the next up.


The most important facet to consider here is, I think, the improvement of the offensive line as it relates to McFarland’s quickness. While he hasn’t had many opportunities to show it over the past three years, it could finally be an asset behind an offensive line that can block for the run.

The Steelers already have two established workhorses up front with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Nobody else in the backfield even got any touches until there were injuries, so we’re talking about a potentially insignificant role because they’re still trying to find ways to get Warren more touches.

A third back might as well have a different quality, like speed and quickness, which McFarland has. He could also potentially serve as the backup return man and play on special teams in coverage—if he works on that.


There is no position more susceptible to attrition than running back. Remember, McFarland was the Steelers’ number four running back last season, on the practice squad, and they still got to a game where they needed him because both Harris and Warren were injured.

Especially in an offense that will be more centered on the run than it has been for years, it is important to have a steady and reliable third back whom you would want to contribute. McFarland hasn’t proven up to this point in his career that he is that guy.

The Steelers no longer have a Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Whatever Kenny Pickett is or might become, he is not now that. This is not a throwaway consideration. That’s why we have even entertained the idea of drafting a running back to really solidify the position. McFarland might be a number four in that case, whether on the 53-man roster or practice squad.

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