The Steelers have made it abundantly clear that fixing the team’s woeful running game is one of their top priorities this offseason.
When asked about it during a fan question-and-answer session last week, team president Art Rooney II reiterated his pledge for what seems like the dozenth time this offseason that the Steelers will be better at running the football in 2021.
“We’ve got to be a lot better in running,” said Rooney. “Certainly we don’t want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers being last in the league in rushing again ever. I think it’s something our coaches are focused on and we’ll be looking for ways to improve in the draft. It’s something we’ve got to fix, and we are working on it.”
But the team hasn’t taken many significant steps to fix that part of the its game so far this offseason.
In fact, with the retirements of starting center Maurkice Pouncey and top blocking tight end Vance McDonald, the free agent loss of starting left guard Matt Feiler and the fact that starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and running back James Conner remain unsigned, one could make a pretty good argument that the Steelers’ running game prospects look worse right now than they did at the end of the season.
There have been some additions, but the signings of center/guard B.J. Finney, guard Rashaad Coward, guard/tackle Joe Haeg and running back Kalen Ballage have not exactly swung the needle wildly in the Steelers’ favor.
There are still some free agents on the running back market. In addition to Conner, Todd Gurley, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Duke Johnson and others can be had.
While some of those are (or were) big names, it doesn’t appear likely that the Steelers will be making a significant upgrade at running back in free agency. The same can be said of the offensive line.
The Steelers did not have a lot of money to spend this offseason, but they were able to make the money work to bring back JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cam Sutton, defensive linemen Tyson Alualu and others.
Instead, only tackle Zach Banner, perhaps Finney and mid-tier running back Kalen Ballage could be construed as singings to help the running game, and they went for a combined pittance.
It seems that the Steelers are truly going to make an impact in personnel in their running game, they’re going to have to do it in the draft.