Do Steelers recent RB moves signal a split with disgruntled Najee Harris?

The Steelers have made numerous moves at the running back position in recent weeks, and one has to wonder what it means for Najee Harris this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have been stockpiling running backs in recent weeks, aggressively adding to the room to fill out the depth chart. All of this despite deciding to decline the fifth-year option on co-starting running back Najee Harris. Could the numerous additions to the room be indicating a potential split with Harris, as trade rumors have swirled since the option was not picked up?

Entering the offseason, this team had their two starters at the position and not much else (although Aaron Shampklin has found a way to stick around). The most notable addition to the room was Cordarrelle Patterson, as he is better than your usual third-string running back. Jonathan Ward and La’Mical Perine have also joined the squad over the past few weeks.

While not elite players, these are all names with NFL experience, and in the case of Perine, he had some starter hype a few years ago. With the decline of Harris’s fifth-year option a big story, could the team be prepared to replace him with a bundle of middling names?

Are the Steelers preparing to move on from Najee Harris?

In short, despite the numerous additions, I don’t think this is a sign that the Steelers are going to try and move on from Harris this offseason. If they did, it would be a huge shift in philosophy, and while I think these last-minute additions have some intrigue, they also aren’t significant commodities.

To me, it would be the belief that Jaylen Warren is a true bell-cow and Patterson can pick up the slack as a second option. While I think a backfield like that could work, it would be to the detriment of the team. Warren is a great player, but his traits are maximized when splitting carries with someone. I’m not sure you want him carrying the ball 25-30 times every week.

If anything, maybe the Steelers are prepping to carry four running backs on the roster, but even that might be a stretch. Running backs get dinged up often, and the team will likely want to keep the work for Harris and Warren light during training camp. You need able bodies, and the likes of Ward and Perine fill that void.

While I think Harris’s long-term prospects with the Steelers took a major hit with the decline of his option, I can’t foresee him not being on the roster this season. Even with the recent addition of running backs to the roster, that seems to be filling out the offseason depth chart, not moves to replace Harris with.

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