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PFF Reveals Predictions on Fifth-Year Options for Steelers



Steelers RB Najee Harris pLayoffs

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus recently did an exercise of predicting the fifth-year option decisions for every 2021 first-round draft pick. In regards to Steelers running back Najee Harris, Spielberger  believes Pittsburgh will pickup up the option.

The Steelers have until May 2 to make a decision.

“Harris is a solid all-around player who can block for the team’s new quarterback duo, catch the ball out of the backfield with confident hands and run very hard between the tackles,” Spielberger wrote. “How he fits with new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith remains to be seen, and he should cede more and more snaps to Jaylen Warren going forward, but not so much so to make declining the fifth-year option the move here for Pittsburgh.”

Harris’ price tag will come in at $6.790 million since he has not made a Pro Bowl straight-up in the eyes of the league. He was selected to one Pro Bowl, but as an alternate, which does not affect his fifth-year option price tag.

Harris, the team’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has produced well in his first three years with the team despite suboptimal conditions given his offensive line play in front of him.

“We have until the first week in May to make a decision,” Steelers general manager Omar Khan said during a press conference at the NFL Combine. “We have a new offensive coordinator, so that’s gonna play into the decision-making process. We’re having conversations with Arthur. It’s been great. We’ve been engaging frequently — coach Tomlin and Arthur and I — we’ve kind of been talking about the offense and what the vision is for it. And we think very highly of Najee and we’ll make the decision before May 2.”

With the acquisition of quarterback Justin Fields via a trade with the Chicago Bears, the Steelers will also have to decide on a fifth-year option for Fields. With a $25,664,000 option amount, Spielberger expects the Steelers to decline.

“The Steelers don’t have any quarterbacks under contract beyond 2024 as of today, but exercising Fields’ option still feels like a longshot,” he wrote.

“Fields can potentially supplant Russell Wilson as the starter in 2024, after which Pittsburgh may be able to sign him to something of a bridge-type deal, franchise-tag him or extend him to a major contract. That outcome is more expensive than the option — potentially exponentially so — but it’s worth avoiding the downside risk of exercising the option and things not panning out quite as well.”

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the team is looking to potentially extend Fields, and that could happen even before the 2024 season.

“However, that doesn’t preclude the possibility Fields, who just turned 25, could be signed to a new multiyear deal even before the start of the 2024 season. After all, it would make sense. Fields is being viewed as a potential quarterback for the future with the Steelers, even though he was 10-28 as a starter in three seasons with the Bears. It is not their intention to bring him in merely as a backup for one season,” Dulac wrote.