Pro Football Focus released their 2021 NFL free agency rankings and predictions last week, and believe Steelers running back James Conner will be leaving Pittsburgh.
Rated as the No. 82 free agent this cycle, PFF projects Conner will sign with the New York Jets on a three-year, $20 million deal. $10 million would be guaranteed, with a $8 million signing bonus.
Conner would also hypothetically joining Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and tackle Matt Feiler in New York, who PFF also predicts will join the Jets this offseason.
Conner’s production has dropped significantly over the last two seasons after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2018 that saw him rush for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Plagued by injuries each of the last two years, Conner rushed for 721 yards and six scores in 2020. While injuries certainly did not help, the team’s inability to run block absolutely played a factor in the drop in production.
With cap space to spend, the Jets are expected to splurge this cycle, solidifying their weapons around current quarterback Sam Darnold or whoever they select with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft. Conner could again find himself filling the shoes of LeVeon Bell.
A hometown hero, Conner was selected in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Pitt. He attended McDowell High School in Erie. Conner earned that lone Pro Bowl nod in 2018, his first season as the starter.