The Pittsburgh Steelers could look to a big running back to fill one of their key roster holes.
In a list compiled by Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report, veteran running back Carlos Hyde was one of several free agents mentioned as players the Steelers should pursue. Pittsburgh is currently lacking depth at running back behind workhorse Najee Harris, who led the league in touches and ranked second in carries last season.
Knox stresses Hyde’s “physical inside” presence as a reason for why Pittsburgh should pursue the 31-year-old running back.
“It would make a whole lot of sense for Pittsburgh to add more depth behind Harris in 2022,” says Knox. “A quality receiving back like Jalen Richard would make a lot of sense for the Steelers, and there are other intriguing ball-carriers left in the free-agent pool. A physical inside runner like Carlos Hyde or Latavius Murray would also make sense if the Steelers are looking to not run Harris into the ground.”
ALL the latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
Hyde’s Experience is Appealing Asset for Steelers
Hyde has become a journeyman running back over the course of his career, playing for six different teams over the past eight seasons. The veteran back most recently spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, playing out the season as the backup to starter James Robinson.
In 12 games prior to suffering a concussion in Week 14, the 6-foot, 229-pounder ran for 253 yards on 72 carries (3.5 yards per carry) with one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, Hyde posted a 53.8 offensive grade and a 61.0 rushing grade last season. However, just a season prior, Hyde posted a 73.1 rushing grade with the Seattle Seahawks, ranking 35th among all running backs with at least 90 snaps.
During that season with the Seahawks, Hyde ran for 4.4 yards per carry as the team’s backup running back. Just a season before that, Hyde ran for over 1,000 yards with the Houston Texans while also averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Hyde’s Mileage Could Scare off Steelers
In other words, the ability to serve admirably as a backup running back is certainly there, especially considering Hyde has filled that role over the past two seasons. However, the fact that Hyde is on the verge of turning 32 years old during the 2022 season is troubling, especially when one considers that he has 1,225 career carries to his name.
For perspective, only Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, Mark Ingram and Ezekiel Elliott have more career carries than Hyde among active backs. With the exception of Ingram, neither of those running backs are as old as Hyde.
The Steelers need up upgrade at running back before the season starts. Their current duo of backup running backs — Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland — are among the most underwhelming in the league. Snell averaged just 2.7 yards per carry last season, while McFarland touched the ball a total of four times last season.
Pittsburgh can ill-afford to run its most-prized offensive building block (Harris) into the ground with another 307-carry season. Adding Hyde may not be the best answer, but adding a proven veteran running back to the equation will certainly help the Steelers this season.