The running back market has been the topic and discussion of the week, and Steelers running back Najee Harris has inserted himself sharply into the conversation itself. He called the notion that running backs do not matter or deserve to be paid less ‘a joke’ on Monday, and the conversation around it has not slowed down since.
“I agree with my running back brothers around the NFL- history will show that you need running backs to win- we set the tone every game and run through walls for our team and lead in many ways- this notion that we deserve less is a joke,” Harris said.
But not everyone thinks that Harris is in the same boat as Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs. Brad Speilberger believes that Harris is in an entirely different spectrum, not just because of how old he is or the position, but because his on field play has not warranted the contract.
Appearing on 93.7 the Fan, Spielberger believes that the Steelers could look to make a similar move to most teams and franchise tag Harris at the most and then let him walk. But where he stands right now, he’s not sure that Harris will see a long-term extension with the Steelers when it comes time to talk contract.
“No he is not really in the same boat (as the elite backs),” Spielberger said. “Yeah, Jacobs was the highest graded rusher and is way up there in yards per attempt, broken tackles, etc, and he wins games for them. So, yeah, no, Harris is not that. But he was drafted as an older player. I think they did have this path mapped out. He was 22-and-a-half- 23 as a rookie, Jacobs was 20. So, yes, that is unfortunately the route that it looks like it’s going for Najee.”
He’s not wrong on that assessment. When it comes time for Harris to be paid a contract, he will be 27 or 28 years old. It’s just a tough sell for a team to pay a running back that much money in this age. We will see what happens when that happens, but it likely will not be one that is good.