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Steelers Analysis

Say Goodbye to Najee Harris? Huge RB Deal Makes Steelers Extension Seem Unlikely

A contract extension between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Najee Harris seems unlikely after a huge deal for Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson.

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Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium on Oct. 29, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The New England Patriots have signed running back Rhamondre Stevenson to a four-year contract extension, which should provide some clues as to what the market will be for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris, who will be a free agent in 2025 after the team declined his fifth-year option.

The Steelers could have had Harris locked up for the 2025 season at $6.79 million guaranteed. Compared to the deal Stevenson just got, that could be a bargain.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Stevenson’s four-year contract extension with the Patriots is worth $36 million, or $9 million per year. The contract has $17 million fully guaranteed and includes $12 million in bonuses on top of the $36 million price tag, which could make it worth as much as $48 million.

Steelers Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson, left, is brought down by Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. (3) and cornerback Deane Leonard (33), behind right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Per season, that’s nearly half again more than what the Steelers turned down to keep Harris for 2025 — and the news gets worse from there. Between the two 2021 NFL Draft selections, Harris has been the far more productive player.

In three seasons, Stevenson has 499 carries for 2,265 yards, while Harris has 834 carries for 3,269 yards. Stevenson has missed 10 games over three seasons, while Harris has never missed a game. While Stevenson has a better yards per carry (4.5 compared to 3.9), he has scored eight fewer touchdowns, 22 to 14.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris during OTAs at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on May 28, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Harris has also been the more prolific receiver, with 144 catches for 866 yards and another six touchdowns compared to 121 catches for 782 yards and one score for Stevenson.

Harris has clearly been the more reliable workhorse of the two backs, is better in the red zone and is also a better receiver, and Stevenson just signed a deal that is for almost 50% more than the deal the Steelers already turned down.

Though general manage Omar Khan said he’s keeping his options open, that combination makes it almost impossible to imagine Harris signing a long-term extension with the Steelers at this point. 

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