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Insider Highly Doubts Long-Term Deal for Najee Harris

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Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris

Despite not placing the fifth-year option on running back Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan is leaving the door open for a long-term deal. Khan said last week during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan that turning down Harris’ option was solely a business decision.

“It was a business decision that we had to make by I think it was May 2. Najee is awesome to have around here. We love him as a player and a person. Just because we didn’t pick up the option doesn’t exclude us from doing something with Najee for the long term,” Khan said. “I’d love to say he had a long career in Pittsburgh. He really represents us well on the field and off the field. It was just one of those things that we had to make a decision on. We just felt right now that was the right decision for everyone. I love Najee and would love to have him here long-term.”

Longtime Steelers beat reporter Mark Kaboly of The Athletic is not buying Khan’s explanation. He doesn’t see a long-term deal coming to fruition for Najee Harris.

“I don’t buy that at all,” Kaboly said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan’s The Morning Show. “If they wanted him in their long-term plans, they would’ve picked up his option or at least offer him a contract. I mean, I don’t believe in, let’s see how he does in Arthur Smith’s offense. We know how he’s gonna do in Arthur Smith’s offense ’cause he’s had running backs like that before. So I just think… it was a business decision.

“They don’t want to pay a guy $7 million bucks of guaranteed money right now. Especially when you have, first, a position that people don’t pay a lot to. And you already have a guy like Jaylen Warren who’s not going to get paid much money next year.”

Kaboly is probably right. It’s hard to imagine Harris signing a long-term deal with the Steelers after this season. Warren is a cheaper option, and many would argue that he’s a better running back than Harris anyway.

Warren ran for 5.3 yards per carry, one of the best figures in the league in 2023. He ran 149 times for 784 yards and four touchdowns. He was also more involved in the passing game, catching 61 passes for 370 yards compared to 29 receptions for 170 yards for Harris. On a per-touch basis, Warren is more explosive and efficient than Harris.