The Pittsburgh Steelers need to think of running back options in 2019, and could have a few ways to find their next franchise runner.
The Steelers look to have Le’Veon Bell for one more season on the franchise tag as they were not able to get a deal done at the deadline. He seems to want more money than $14 million a year and that is probably the most the Steelers are willing to pay. It is also unlikely for this reason that they will be able to put Bell on a non-exclusive tag next year as it could cost them $17 million per year. So I think it is time to look for life after Le’Veon Bell.
There are three options in replacing Bell. They could replace him with someone in-house, they could draft a running back early or they could sign someone in free agency. This rift with Bell could give Conner a chance to develop as Bell will at least miss training camp.
Conner has performed well in his limited stints with the team which is a good sign. The other good sign from Conner is that players and coaches have noticed an improvement in him. This could be a sign that he could step in and be the primary back.
The second option is to draft a guy. Now it is too early to say who will emerge as a top back in the next draft. An option that I like is Bryce Love who is supposed to go in the late first-round. Of course, this is too early to guess where he will go in the draft and it is possible that he pursues a medical career instead of the NFL.
The third option is to sign somebody in free agency. With Bell coming off the books, they could probably afford a decent back and have some money to spend elsewhere.
One that I would like them to add is Melvin Gordon. He will be able to be a top 10 runner in the league and he can add as a pass catcher. The only worry I have about him is his blocking. I think the Steelers could get him on the open market for less than they were offering Bell and they would still have a running back that teams have to key into. He would still be able to open up the passing game for Antonio Brown.