The Steelers running back depth chart looks a little different now after heading into Monday when the team released Master Teague as part of the wave of cuts they just executed before OTAs on Tuesday.
Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are obvious roster locks. However, behind them, there is an interesting cache of potential options. That includes Jason Huntley, Anthony McFarland, and the newly-signed Alfonzo Graham. There is one thing in common about that group — they lack special teams experience outside of the return game.
Now, maybe that is by design and the Steelers want their third running back to be the returner. However, Benny Snell gave Pittsburgh considerable special teams snaps. That means something, both on kickoff coverage and in other areas. With so much turnover on that unit, there is likely a need to potentially want someone there that could play that aspect of special teams.
None of those three above is necessarily a workhorse type, either. Are we seeing a shift in organizational philosophy right before our eyes where the team will embrace a running back-by-committee approach outside of Harris? Or is there a move looming in the future?
I would bet on it being the latter option. Simply put, this team has a lot of the same types of guys right now from a skillset perspective. I think when you have competitions like this one, it’s always a good idea to have guys with some different attributes that they bring to the table. Maybe, that means that Snell returns to the team and reprises his role. He has always been a standout special teamer and filled in admirably in Indianapolis after a flurry of injuries to the running back position left him as the lead back.
You look at the RB free agent market for an RB3 who has some special teams experience and there are some interesting names besides Snell. Justin Jackson of the Detroit Lions and Malcolm Brown from the Los Angeles Rams all are suitable RB3 options with plenty of special teams experience.
That guy that fills that RB3 does not need to be a world-beater. But they need to bring ancillary value outside of just rushing the football. That’s why someone like Snell, Jackson, or Brown makes the most sense to fill that void if they bring someone into the room for a competition. The other three that are on the roster as it stands have return game and maybe they will even be cross-trained. However, the RB depth is a question right now given the nature of the skillsets they have competing for that spot right now.