Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be highly active at all in free agency starting in less than four weeks from now? Odds are great they won’t be and especially when it comes to the more higher profile players set to become unrestricted free agents on March 17. Even so, that’s not stopping several of the major media “experts” from predicting that the Steelers might sign a higher profile unrestricted free agent or two in the coming months.
Recently, several ESPN “experts” were asked to predict where they think several of this year’s top unrestricted free agents will land this offseason and one of them, Rob Demovsky, who covers the Green Bay Packers, has running back Aaron Jones landing with the Steelers. Below is his reason for thinking that Jones might ultimately sign with the Steelers.
“There’s much to be settled with Pittsburgh’s offense, including Ben Roethlisberger’s immediate future, but the addition of a game-changing running back like Jones could steady things. No, the Steelers aren’t traditionally big players in free agency, and yes, they have cap problems — but so does just about every team this year. They can make it work if they want to. The Packers aren’t going to pay guaranteed money to a running back, and it’s hard to imagine Jones’ new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, letting his client play under the tag without the promise of long-term security.”
It’s quite funny that Demovsky nips at the Packers and them not going to pay guaranteed money to Jones to keep him this offseason. Why? Because the Steelers have the same business practice as the Packers when it comes to guaranteed money for non-quarterbacks. In short, if Demovsky believes the Packers won’t re-sign Jones for the reasons he cited, he should apply that same reasoning to the Steelers as well. This is a great case of a beat writer knowing the team he or she covers well but not others.
Jones, in case you haven’t been keeping track, is expected to be one of the top one or two unrestricted free agent running backs this offseason. Pro Football Focus, who has Jones as their top free agent running back this offseason, has him valued at $11.5 per season. They expect Jones to sign a contract that will pay him $25 million in total guarantees and one that includes $15.5 million in fully guaranteed money at signing.
Assuming Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger plays in 2021, Jones, if signed for $11.5 million per season in new money average, would instantly become the second highest paid offensive player on the team. Can you see the Steelers doing that? No, no you can’t, and neither can I and thus neither should Demovsky.
Currently, the Steelers have four running backs under contract for the 2021 season in Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr. Anthony McFarland Jr., and Trey Edmunds. While they are sure to add to that position group this offseason, if they do via a free agency, it would be via a very cheap contract for near or right at the minimum amount. additionally, look for the Steelers to address the running back position once again at some point during the 2021 NFL Draft just like they have done the last four consecutive years.