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Insider Has One Major Concern with Najee Harris in 2024

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Steelers Najee Harris

With the Pittsburgh Steelers declining Najee Harris’ fifth-year option, the running back room could potentially look a lot different in 2025.

Harris is set to hit the open market in 2025, while Jaylen Warren is a restricted free agent. Cordarrelle Patterson is under contract for the next two seasons. The Steelers will have the right of first refusal with Warren, which means they will have to pay him significantly more in 2025. As of now, it seems more probable that Warren would be back. An extension could occur for Harris, too, but it’s a lot murkier, as he could price himself out of Pittsburgh if he puts up gaudy numbers in 2024.

Harris having a surly attitude due to the decline of the fifth-year option is a concern for veteran Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Harris is very hot and cold sometimes in his temperament.

“Potentially, I mean he’s a very unique character. He’s hard to get a read on. Sometimes he’s cranky and sometimes he’s talkative. My biggest concern right now is which one are you going to get during the regular season here… is he going to be sitting and moaning and complaining behind the scenes… I’m not quite sure right now because he’s a very intriguing individual that can go either way at this point,” Kaboly said during a recent appearance on 93.7 The Fan.

Kaboly also discussed whether the fifth-year option decision would affect Harris’ relationship with Mike Tomlin.

“(Tomlin) still talks glowingly of him. You see the interactions and the behind-the-scenes stuff. I don’t know if it has changed to that point at least publicly or at least where we can see it here. I think it’s a big deal for Najee to get that C ripped off him last year. He wants to be a leader and at least tries to be a leader,” Kaboly said.

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 his first two seasons. In other words, Harris has become a dependable running back for Pittsburgh through sheer availability and some solid tape.

He had his most efficient season yet in 2023. Harris’ rushing yards of expectation, yards per carry, and broken tackles per carry were all career-high. There is a lot to signal that Harris has some upside left in his game, and this should be the best offensive line he has played behind.