4 players who are definitely entering their last year with Steelers

These players could be putting on the black and gold for the last time in 2024.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks / Conor Courtney/GettyImages

I realize it's early to start thinking about next offseason with the 2024 season still a couple of months away. However, given the current roster and contract situations, it appears that four players might be entering their final year with the Steelers.

Najee Harris' fifth-year option declined

With the emergence of Jaylen Warren taking on a much larger workload and the running back market taking a hit, running backs are all vying to get paid. Najee Harris has been quite deserving of getting his fifth-year option, but the team decided otherwise.

The Steelers' front office will most likely base their decision on how this season goes. So, who deserves the contract between Harris and Warren, who is also a restricted free agent next season?

Personally, I think the Steelers will lean towards Warren, who has less wear and tear on his body and will be cheaper than extending Harris. Who knows, maybe the team will keep both, but in today's NFL, where most teams view running backs as easily replaceable, I can't see that happening.

With Rhamondre Stevenson getting a nice extension from the New England Patriots, it's hard to see Harris—who probably wants a deal bigger than Stevenson's—getting that in Pittsburgh. We've also seen a history of fifth-year options being declined and players moving elsewhere after their rookie contracts expire, and it's likely to happen again.

James Daniels replacement already drafted

James Daniels enters a contract year after establishing himself as one of the Steelers' top offensive linemen over the past few seasons. However, the team appears to have already secured his potential successor in Mason McCormick, whom they drafted in the 4th round.

The Steelers hold high expectations for McCormick, seeing him as a player with all the attributes to become a reliable starter. As the team aims to overhaul the offensive line and tailor their offense to a specific style, McCormick could play a pivotal role in their plans moving forward.

Damontae Kazee finds himself on the wrong side of 30

Damontae Kazee, an upcoming free agent next season, has proven himself as a solid player over the past two years in Pittsburgh. However, at 32 years old next June, defensive backs typically see a decline in performance.

With the Steelers securing DeShon Elliot as the team's starter for the next two years, Kazee may transition back into a valuable depth role. Given Pittsburgh's aging defense, retaining Kazee seems unlikely, as his presence may not align with the team's future defensive plans.

Dan Moore's time to prove himself has ran out

After retaining his starting role last season despite the team drafting Broderick Jones in the first round and later selecting Troy Fautanu in the first as well, it's clear how the Steelers perceive Dan Moore.

With 2024 marking the final year of Moore's rookie contract, it appears his tenure as a starter in Pittsburgh is coming to an end, likely prompting him to seek a new team where he can start afresh. While Moore has been serviceable, he's also faced significant challenges. The Steelers have recognized the need for improvement, making substantial investments in the tackle positions to solidify the offensive line's edges for years to come.

The offensive line has seen its share of ups and downs recently, but there's optimism that this latest effort will finally bring stability and success.