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Najee Harris Making Big Changes in 2024 Season

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris is making significant changes to his body this offseason, slimming down.

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Steelers RB Najee Harris
Steelers RB Najee Harris against the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 6, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to decline Najee Harris’ fifth-year option was somewhat of a surprising move. There’s arguments on both sides, but the general opinion from the national media is that the Steelers made the right move.

Former Steelers running back and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis was surprised that the Steelers didn’t place the fifth-year option on Harris, but he understands the business part of it.

“I was surprised, but here’s why I am not surprised,” Bettis said during an appearance on The Joe Starkey Show on 93.7 The Fan Thursday. “I’m not surprised because there’s, I believe, a conscious effort the NFL has taken on running backs…to keep the numbers for running backs under wraps so that they can have the money to go give quarterbacks, and give to wide receivers, and give to tight ends.”

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. But Harris is trying to come out in 2024 even better than he was, slimming down, according to his trainer. Harris is down ten pounds.

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.

The offensive line is completely 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. That wasn’t the case in his rookie year when he was running behind the likes of Kendrick Green, Trai Turner and a rookie Dan Moore Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris in a game against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 15, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

According to Gerry Dulac, the team is not dissatisfied with Harris; rather, they want to give him a new contract that would come below the five-year option.

“They are not dissatisfied with Najee Harris, I think the idea will be to give him a new contract, a two-year contract. And somewhere along the line, that type of money that he was missing out on, $6.79 million will reflected in a signing bonus. And then they’ll maybe backload it a little bit and see with the shelf life of running backs in the National Football League. I think that’s what they’re going to do. They are not ready to give up on Najee Harris or move on from Najee Harris,” Dulac said.

The Steelers have completely revamped the offensive line in the last two seasons. They now have two bookend first-round pick tackles, a plug-and-play center, and two solid veteran guards. And they hope Harris will prove their faith right.