Former All-Pro Urged to Seek New Home with Steelers

Getty Cardinals' David Johnson rushes the football against the Steelers.

It’s no secret that Najee Harris carried a ton of the offensive load for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his rookie season of 2021. What does a team do when its quarterback is a shell of his former self? Hand if off to the young workhorse who craves getting the ball and can never have enough.

At 40, Ben Roethlisberger would only be able to pull off a final season with some help. Acutely aware they’d have to rely less on Roethlisberger, the Steelers tapped Harris with the 24th overall selection of the 2021 NFL draft.

It wasn’t long before Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did what he does with his running backs — ran him rampant.

Harris’ rookie campaign boasted 1,200 rushing yards, placing him fourth in the NFL, and his 381 touches were the most of any player in the league.

Harris had to fight for every inch with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to rectify that situation with a bolstered offensive line. If the unit performs at a higher level this season, we could see Harris easily eclipse the 1,500-yard mark.

Though a workaholic like Harris enjoyed every minute and won’t ever desire a diminished role, it’s in the Steelers’ best interest to keep tread on his tires as long as humanly possible. And that starts with the guys behind him on the depth chart.

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Reading the (Running Back) Room

Even with Najee Harris, the Pittsburgh Steelers running back room is arguably one of the weakest points on offense. They need help. Benny Snell is ho-hum. A disappointing Anthony McFarland isn’t cutting it. And undrafted free agents — Mataeo Durant and Jaylen Warren — went undrafted for a reason.

This is where Steelers fans are adamant that David Johnson come to the rescue (more on that below). Johnson could be the change-of-pace back the Steelers need but have ignored since DeAngelo Williams left Pittsburgh six years ago.

Johnson, a third-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, became a free agent in March after his contract with the Houston Texans expired. He’s entering his eighth season with 4,047 yards and 39 touchdowns on his stat sheet. Add to that 2,219 yards and 15 touchdowns as a pass-catcher, and you have a pretty solid running back. He’s also about to join his third franchise in as many years.

There’s no question that Johnson, 30, is on the downside of his career and has dealt with injuries over the years, but he’s proven he can shine in a limited role. Fewer reps should help keep him off the injury report, which could get him another two to three seasons of play time in a rotational role.

Steelers Faithful Want Johnson

When a recent workout didn’t, ahem, work out with the New Orleans Saints, Johnson took to Twitter to share his disappointment.

In a June 17 tweet, Johnson wrote: “Unfortunate, we couldn’t come to terms, but appreciate the @Saints for the opportunity! Journey to be continued.” #GodsHands

And, as we tend to do, Steelers fans filled the thread with comments urging the running back to bring his talents to Pittsburgh.

Johnson has been gracious enough to respond to some of the comments, primarily from those who bleed Black & Gold. He seems to like the thought of going to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even the non-Steelers fans know. “Go to Pittsburgh best chance to revive your career, either check down trubisky or the rookie one year incentive based bet on yourself,” a Titans fan responded.

“Yo @steelers we need some quality RB depth… and someone who knows how to catch the ball out of the backfield to give Najee some help,” a Steelers fan wrote.

My thoughts exactly!

“I mean the Steelers could use you big dawg. You and 22 rocking the same backfield,” a fan replied.

Seeing Steelers fans repping on Twitter is great. The thought of a capable veteran to ease Harris’ load is nice, too. Unfortunately, Mike Tomlin doesn’t operate like that.

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