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Florio: Steelers May Decline Najee Harris’ Fifth Year Option

Mike Florio believes that the Pittsburgh Steelers could surprise and turn down Najee Harris’ fifth year option on Thursday.



Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris in a game against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 15, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers pick up Najee Harris’ fifth-year option? General manager Omar Khan has remained mum regarding Harris’ fifth-year option, but with the deadline fast approaching, there will a decision made soon. The deadline to decline the options is in under 24 hours.

“We have until May 2nd to make that decision,” Khan told reporters at the NFL owner’s meetings. “I am sure we will have some serious conversation about that next week.”

But Mike Florio believes that they might decline the option to kickstart Harris’ best season in the NFL to this point, pointing to how the Buccaneers worked with Doug Martin.

“With [Najee] Harris, it’s a tougher call. Because sometimes, and I remember this with Doug Martin when the Buccaneers didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, it was the proverbial kick in the butt to get the most out of him the next year. And then they signed him to a new contract after that fourth season. So it’s part of the psychology of how do we get the most out of the player,” Florio said on 93.7 the Fan. “But once you extend it, it’s fully guaranteed. He’s getting that money no matter what. They might be tempted to not do it, just to see what they get out of him in a contract year.”

Harris became the first player in Steelers history to run for 1,000 or more yards in each of the first three seasons of his career. In 2023, Harris had the best season of his career in terms of yards per carry as he rushed 255 times for 1,035 yards — a 4.1 yards per carry average — and he scored eight touchdowns. Harris had rushed for 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons.

At $6 million, it seems like the Steelers should retain Harris for at least one more season beyond this coming one but with a capable, cheaper back up in Jaylen Warren and the volatility of the running back position, the Steelers really may think about this one until the last second.

Nonetheless, the 2024 season will mark Harris’ fourth year as the starting running back for the Steelers and it will be a pivotal year for the running back.