Najee Harris

Steelers GM Omar Khan Addresses Fifth-Year Option Decision On RB Najee Harris

The Steelers elected not to pick up Najee Harris‘ fifth-year option this offseason, leaving him on track for free agency in 2025. Pittsburgh’s lead back thus faces an uncertain future, but the door is open to an agreement keeping him in Pittsburgh beyond the coming campaign.

Harris would have been due $6.79MM in 2025 had the option been exercised, something the Steelers were once expected to do. Instead, his play this year will go a long way in determining his value on the open market. When speaking about the decision, general manager Omar Khan confirmed the Alabama product could still find himself in the team’s plans.

“It was a business decision that we had to make,” Khan said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan (h/t “But Najee’s awesome to have around here. Love Najee as a player and a person. Just because we didn’t pick it up doesn’t exclude us from doing something with Najee long term… We just felt right now that was the right decision for everyone. I love Najee. I’d love to have him here long term.”

The second-year general manager noted last summer that the nature of the modern quarterback market has a dramatic effect on roster-building at other positions. QB prices continue to rise, and running backs are prime candidates to be limited to rookie contract investments from a team perspective. That is the case for both Harris and Jaylen Warren at the moment, and the latter has proven to be an efficient backfield option in two years to date (5.1 yards per carry average vs. Harris’ 3.9).

Pittsburgh has a rather cost-effective QB room for at least one year, but new deals will be needed to keep Russell Wilson and/or Justin Fields in place for 2025 and beyond. Neither passer should be expected to approach the top of the position’s market on a Steelers re-up, but devoting additional cap resources to one or both would limit the funds available to retaining Harris. Running backs in general have struggled to land lucrative multi-year deals in recent years, and it would be interesting to see if team and player pursued a short-term agreement of some kind down the road.

A Harris re-signing would not come as a complete surprise, and Khan’s remarks confirm it will at least be considered. Plenty is still to be determined, of course, and how the Steelers value the running back position with Khan at the helm will be worth watching closely as the 2024 season unfolds leading into a potential Harris departure.

Steelers Notes: Fields, Harris, WR2

Last month, there was some chatter that Steelers quarterback Justin Fields could see some action as a kick returner in 2024, with special teams coordinator Danny Smith raising the possibility at a team meeting. Steelers beat reporters were quick to throw cold water on the notion, and Fields himself recently did the same.

While acknowledging that Smith did indeed bring up the idea of having him return kicks, Fields said, “nah, I think everybody kind of interpreted it wrong. Coach Danny was basically just trying to send a message that no matter who you are, you could be on special teams. He just used that as an example” (via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Even if Fields is not deployed as a third phase player, his athleticism could be an asset in other ways, especially since Russell Wilson is expected to at least open the regular season as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. However, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted during a recent chat with fans, head coach Mike Tomlin is not fond of taking out his starting QB to run gadget-type plays. Of course, the team would not necessarily need to remove Wilson from the game in order to take advantage of Fields’ athletic gifts, so it will be interesting to see whether OC Arthur Smith designs a package of plays for Fields as the 2021 first-rounder tries to unseat Wilson and prove that he can be the club’s long-term starter under center.

In that same conversation with fans, Dulac predicted that the Steelers will extend running back Najee Harris. Back in January, we heard that Pittsburgh was planning to exercise Harris’ fifth-year option, which would have kept him under club control through 2025. However, the Steelers ultimately reversed course and declined the option, which puts their RB1 on track to hit free agency next year.

Harris has been a model of durability and consistency throughout his three-year professional tenure, starting all 17 regular season games and topping 1,000 rushing yards each year. On the other hand, his heavy usage and efficiency issues — he has a career YPC rate of just 3.9 — likely informed the team’s decision to decline his option.

Despite their passing on the option, we heard that the Steelers would nonetheless be open to working out a deal that would keep Harris in the fold beyond 2024. The team’s policy of not negotiating contracts in-season and Harris’ own public frustrations with running backs having to settle for team-friendly pacts would seem to work against such a deal coming to fruition, so Dulac’s prediction is a noteworthy one.

Speaking of predictions from longtime Pittsburgh beats, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic says it would demonstrate “a lack of awareness and urgency if [the Steelers] don’t add a legit No. 2 [wide receiver] before the season starts,” and he believes the club will do just that (subscription required). Kaboly does not hazard a guess as to whom the Steelers might pursue, and 49ers GM John Lynch said his team is no longer talking trades involving Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk (Pittsburgh was one of the clubs eyeing Samuel).

Needless to say, a trade could come together at any time, and the trade market would seem to be a more likely source of WR2 talent than the free agent pool at this point in the year. At present, Hunter Renfrow (who is more of a slot option) and Michael Thomas (who has not turned in a healthy, productive season since 2019) profile as two of the top free agents available. In the meantime, players like Van Jefferson, Calvin Austin III, Scotty Miller, Quez Watkins, Marquez Callaway, Denzel Mims, and third-round rookie Roman Wilson are competing for reps behind George Pickens.

Steelers To Decline RB Najee Harris’ Fifth-Year Option

A report from January indicated the Steelers would likely pick up running back Najee Harris‘ fifth-year option. The team has instead gone in the other direction, per multiple reports. Harris is thus on track for free agency next offseason.

[RELATED: Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

As is the case with all backs drafted early, Harris faced massive expectations upon arrival in Pittsburgh. The Alabama product earned a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie, totaling 1,200 rushing yards while also hauling in 74 receptions. Over the past two seasons, Pittsburgh’s offense has regressed in the passing game but Harris’ ground production has remained steady.

The 26-year-old racked up 1,034 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, recording one more yard and one more score on the ground this past season. Harris has, however, done so while logging a substantial workload and struggling with efficiency. His yards per carry average sits at 3.9 for his career, and he has logged 978 touches through three years. Especially given the market at the RB position, concerns related to his durability may have informed the Steelers’ decision.

Pittsburgh would have owed Harris $6.79MM next season by picking up the option. Today’s move leaves that off the table, although ESPN’s Brooke Pryor reports the team is still open to working out a deal keeping him in place beyond 2024. Needless to say, much will depend on Harris’ performance this season as he shares time with Jaylen Warren.

The latter played sparingly as a rookie in 2022, but he took on a notable role last season. Warren averaged 5.3 yards per carry while adding 61 receptions for 370 yards in the passing game. That has led to calls for the former UDFA to receive a larger share of the Steelers’ offense than Harris, and it will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith divvies up the work between the two. Given the team’s heavy investments up front during this year’s draft, Pittsburgh is set up for a ground-heavy attack.

While this decision creates a degree of uncertainty in the backfield, the same is true under center entering the 2024 season. The Steelers have also declined Justin Fields‘ option, leaving he and projected starter Russell Wilson on track for free agency next offseason. How Pittsburgh’s offense takes shape – and the degree to which Harris is involved – will be a key storyline to follow.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternates) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag
  • Players who achieve any of the following will receive the average of the third-20th-highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position

With the deadline looming, we will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM): Exercised
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM): Declined
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM): Declined
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM): Exercised
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): Exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM): Exercised
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): Declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM): Exercised
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM): Exercised
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM): Declined
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM): Declined
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): Exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM): Declined
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM): Declined
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM): Exercised
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM): Declined
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM): Exercised
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Declined
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM): Exercised
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM): To be exercised
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): N/A; extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM): Declined
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM): Declined
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM): Exercised
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM): Exercised
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM): Declined

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Steelers Expected To Exercise RB Najee Harris’ Fifth-Year Option

The Steelers are expected to exercise running back Najee Harris‘ fifth-year option prior to the May 2 deadline, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (subscription required). That maneuver would give Harris a fully-guaranteed salary of $6.66MM for the 2025 season (he is due to earn $2.44MM in 2024 on the fourth and final year of his rookie contract).

The running back market has notoriously grown stagnant in recent years, and Harris was one of the high-profile RBs to publicly voice his frustration with that trend. In June, Pittsburgh GM Omar Khan suggested that surging prices for quarterbacks naturally create the need to cut costs on other areas of the roster, and like his fellow top execs, Khan might not have an appetite for authorizing a lucrative second contract for a running back in light of the position’s high attrition rate, especially for workhorse backs like Harris.

Of course, the Steelers are in quarterback limbo at the moment, as 2022 first-rounder Kenny Pickett has struggled through his first two professional seasons, and Mitchell Trubisky is the only other quarterback under club control for 2024. But regardless of whether the Steelers add a notable QB contract to their books this offseason, the relatively small fifth-year salary for Harris in 2025 should be easy enough to absorb. Whether extension talks take place between now and the end of the 2025 campaign, however, is an entirely different story.

Mason Rudolph, who just finished a one-year veteran minimum deal, was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 16 after Trubisky struggled in relief of an injured Pickett. That switch coincided with a heavier reliance on the running game, as Harris tallied 72 carries over the final three contests of the regular season and racked up 312 yards (4.33 YPC) and four TDs in the process. Efficiency had been a problem for Harris, but that productive stretch helped him finish the year with a YPC over 4.0 for the first time in his career and underscored his potential upside. Whomever the Steelers hire as their next OC should have a productive RB tandem in Harris and Jaylen Warren, who was a UDFA in 2022 and who is therefore entering a platform campaign.

Another decision that Khan will have to make this offseason is not as clear as the call to pick up Harris’ option. We recently heard that stalwart DT Cam Heyward may be contemplating retirement following a 2023 season marred by a serious groin injury, and while Kaboly says Heyward would like to return for at least one more season (subscription required), the decision is not his alone. The Steelers can cut the six-time Pro Bowler and save roughly $10MM against the 2024 salary cap after accounting for dead money, but as Kaboly notes, ownership would probably rather eat Heyward’s salary than release him given what he has meant to the franchise.

In other words, if Heyward is able to continue playing, the team will welcome him back. Although Kaboly does not say so, it is presumably still possible that player and team work out a short-term extension to smooth out Heyward’s $22MM cap hit in 2024.

Latest On Steelers’ RB Situation

Improvement in the passing game is expected for the Steelers in 2023, Kenny Pickett‘s first full season as the team’s starting quarterback. Pittsburgh is nevertheless planning to rely heavily on the ground game, and a tandem or committee in the backfield does not appear likely.

The Steelers have used Najee Harris as one of the league’s workhorse backs since drafting him in the first round in 2021. The Alabama product has received 579 carries in his two years in Pittsburgh, the most in the NFL over that span. The impressive showings this offseason from backup Jaylen Warren have led to calls for the latter to receive more looks, but Harris is still in line to operate as he has during his previous Steelers campaigns.

“Najee is our 1, there’s no doubt about that,” offensive coordinator Matt Canada said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor (Twitter link). “We’re protecting him to get him to that point… We’re planning on Najee being Najee when we start the regular season.”

Harris dealt with a Lisfranc injury last offseason, and it comes as no surprise that the Steelers have given him only two carries so far in the preseason. Warren has similarly been used sparingly, but his 62-yard touchdown against the Bills showcased the potential he flashed as a rookie last season. The former UDFA totaled 593 scrimmage yards on 105 touches while taking a clear backseat to Harris.

Pittsburgh has been connected to the idea of only carrying two backs on the active roster to start the season, something which would not be a problem if Harris were able to remain healthy and continue as the undisputed No. 1 in the backfield. Efficiency has been an issue for the 25-year-old (3.9 career yards per carry average), but the Steelers’ efforts to provide him an upgraded O-line should help in that regard.

General manager Omar Khan‘s recent remarks about the financial state of the running back market pointed to a lack of desire to pursue a lucrative extension for Harris starting next offseason, when he will first be eligible for a new deal. A strong showing this season would help his market nonetheless, and he is poised to remain the focal point of Pittsburgh’s ground game in 2023.

Steelers GM Omar Khan Addresses RB Market, Najee Harris

Najee Harris is one of several high-profile running backs who has publicly aired his grievances with the downward trend of the position’s market. Conversations amongst the league’s top backs have been aimed at finding a solution to the growing trend of teams avoiding lucrative commitments on second contracts, something which will become a key topic of conversation in Pittsburgh as early as next offseason.

Having been drafted in 2021, Harris is entering the all-important third year of his rookie contract this season. He will be eligible for an extension after the campaign, but, as a former first-rounder, the team will be able to keep him on the books through 2025 via the fifth-year option. Committing to Harris over the long-term would be complicated by the cost of extending franchise quarterbacks, however.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure it out, but when quarterbacks’ salaries start increasing at the rate that they’re increasing, at some point, it’s going to have a residual effect somewhere on the roster,” GM Omar Khan said, via Tim Benz of

“Every franchise is going to handle things differently. It’s up to every franchise to decide how to build their roster, but eventually, that’s going to have an effect when the quarterback salaries are growing at a rate higher than what the cap is,” he added. “There are ways to get around whatever the cap number is, but it’s just going to be a natural effect.”

Indeed, surging prices for young quarterbacks have caused teams to find cost-effective players at other positions, and running backs are a natural target given their attrition rate. Workhorse backs are under threat of seeing a short shelf life in the NFL, something which is particularly of note in Harris’ case. The Alabama product leads the NFL in both carries (579) and touches (694) over the course of his two-year career.

He has been able to total 2,930 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns so far, but efficiency (3.9 yards per carry average) has been a concern. Those figures will play a large role in determining Khan’s willingness to extend Harris, 25, when the time comes, and the depressed nature of the market would lend itself to the team having plenty of leverage during contract talks. With plenty of time remaining before those need to begin, though, player and club are proceeding with the status quo ahead of 2023.

Khan noted that he has not discussed any hypothetical extension with Harris, while praising the latter for his on- and off-the-field contributions in his young career. How interested the Steelers become in committing to a multi-year deal sometime down the road will certainly be worth watching, however.

Could Steelers Keep Only Two RBs On Roster?

In 2022, five running backs (including one fullback) recorded carries for the Steelers offense. Starter Najee Harris and then-rookie Jaylen Warren accounted for 91 percent of those carries (349 of 384 total). The next two most-active carriers, Benny Snell and Derek Watt, are currently free agents, while Anthony McFarland is on a reserve/futures contract after spending last season on the team’s practice squad. All signs are pointing to an offense heavily featuring Harris and Warren, but is it possible that Pittsburgh would go so far as to only keep two running backs on their roster going into the 2023 season? Mark Kaboly of The Athletic seems to think so. Let’s break it down.

First of all, the name of the game for NFL running backs these days is “youth.” With a 25-year-old Harris heading into his third NFL season and a 24-year-old Warren heading into his second, the Steelers may be better set up than any team to roll confidently with two backs for a full season. Harris hasn’t missed a game since entering the NFL, and after leading the NFL in touches as a rookie, he shouldered another heavy load last year with the sixth-most touches in the league.

Warren wasn’t asked to do much in his rookie season. He only averaged about five carries per game, but despite playing less than half the number of snaps as Harris, Warren showed he has potential catching out of the backfield. He recorded 15 fewer receiving yards than Harris, but Warren averaged 7.6 yards per catch to Harris’s 5.6. He fits as an ideal relief back for Harris who can slide in on passing downs when needed. He hasn’t shown that he can carry the team if needed, but neither has any other back on their roster. Plus, Harris hasn’t put Pittsburgh in that position yet during his short career.

McFarland is struggling to hold on to a roster spot in Pittsburgh. After appearing in 11 games as a rookie in 2020, McFarland has only appeared in three games in the two seasons since. The team waived him in its final roster cuts before last season, negating his four-year rookie contract, before signing him to the practice squad and, eventually, a futures contract.

Pittsburgh also signed running back Jason Huntley to a futures contract this offseason after he spent the 2022 season on the practice squad. Huntley has 18 career carries for the Eagles over his first two years in the league but didn’t contribute at all to the Steelers offense last year.

Additionally, the team signed three undrafted free agents: small school backs Darius Hagans out of Virginia State and Alfonzo Graham out of Morgan State as well as Iowa fullback Monte Pottebaum. Hagans and Graham put up strong 2022 seasons for the Trojans and Bears, respectively, but neither is really considered a big threat to push Warren for backup or receiving back duties. Pottebaum was a distinguished scholar at Iowa and a strong special teams contributor.

Of all the above-mentioned backs, McFarland and Pottebaum have the strongest cases for making the 53-man roster with Harris and Warren. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith reportedly has a number of holes to fill in his units, but if he can do so without McFarland or Pottebaum, their chances of making the team will plummet.

Pottebaum has the added opportunity of solidifying himself as a true fullback, filling the void left by Watt. Even that’s not a sure thing, though, as tight end Connor Heyward could always revert back to that role, if needed. Before playing his redshirt senior season and his rookie NFL season at tight end, Heyward spent four years at Michigan State as a stout running back. If the Steelers decided to utilize his blocking and receiving abilities in a fullback/H-back type of role, they may continue to carry four tight ends on the roster in lieu of a third running back.

So, there you have it. As insane as it may seem in today’s NFL, the Steelers may be well on their way to carrying only two running backs on their 53-man roster. They fully trust Harris and Warren to carry out the duties of the room between them, and they can always cheat a little by borrowing a bit from the tight end room, if necessary.

RB Notes: Jacobs, Patriots, Steelers, Hill

Coming off just the NFL’s 11th performance with 300 yards from scrimmage, Josh Jacobs is not expected to practice much this week. The Raiders running back suffered a calf strain during his monster outing against the Seahawks, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Planning to go through “around the clock” treatment, Jacobs said (via The Athletic’s Tashan Reed, on Twitter) he is not planning to miss any time.

Of course, that expectation will be tested. Calf strains can sideline players for multiple weeks. Jacobs handled a career-high 39 touches in Las Vegas’ overtime win in Seattle, finishing with 303 scrimmage yards. He now leads the league in rushing (1,159 yards) and is making a strong case for a second Raiders contract, despite the team having passed on his fifth-year option. The Alabama alum has stayed relatively healthy during his career, having never missed more than three games in a season. But missing time due to this calf ailment would give Jacobs at least one absence in each of his four seasons.

Here is the latest from the running back scene:

  • The Patriots are not expected to have Damien Harris available against the Bills on Thursday. Harris left the Pats’ Thanksgiving Day game with a thigh injury, and’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that issue will keep him out in Week 13 and potentially for more games. One of several starter-caliber backs set to hit free agency in March, Harris has battled multiple injuries this season and seen Rhamondre Stevenson emerge as New England’s primary back. This certainly points to the former third-round pick needing to find another team to dole out his second contract.
  • Najee Harris also left his team’s most recent game due to injury, seeing an abdominal issue force him to leave the Steelers‘ Monday-night win over the Colts. Harris avoided a major injury, however, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). It is not certain the second-year back plays Sunday, but after he battled a Lisfranc issue this offseason, dodging another notable injury represents a nice break. The Steelers were without rookie backup Jaylen Warren in Indianapolis due to a hamstring injury and used veteran Benny Snell as their top ball-carrier.
  • The Commanders worked out a familiar NFC East back this week, bringing in Jordan Howard. The well-traveled back stopped through Washington for a Tuesday workout, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. Former Panthers backup Reggie Bonnafon also took part in this audition. Howard spent time with the Saints this season, playing in two games, but New Orleans released the ex-Chicago and Philadelphia starter from its practice squad earlier this month.
  • Despite using one of their injury activations on Kylin Hill this year, the Packers cut bait recently. Matt LaFleur said conduct contributed to the transaction. “There are standards and expectations that are placed on every member of this team that we expect guys to live up to,” LaFleur said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “He’s a guy we had high expectations for, and [I] realize he’s in a loaded room, but regardless of your role big or small, we expect guys to come to work and be supportive and own that role to the best of your ability. If you don’t do that, that’s what happened.” This certainly points to the second-year back voicing dissatisfaction with being behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on Green Bay’s depth chart. No team claimed Hill, who is now a free agent.

Steelers’ T.J. Watt, Najee Harris Ruled Out With Injuries

9:40pm: Mike Giardi of NFL Network reports that a source has informed him that Harris’s foot injury is not considered serious. This is extremely optimistic news for the Steelers considering they were forced to turn to undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren in Harris’s absence.

4:08pm: Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that Watt will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine if his and the team’s fears of a torn pectoral muscle are indeed true.

3:59pm: The Steelers have suffered injuries to arguably their two most irreplaceable players. Edge rusher T.J. Watt and running back Najee Harris have each been ruled out of the remainder of the team’s contest against the Bengals with pectoral and foot injuries, respectively (Twitter link via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor).

Watt appeared to suffer his injury in the fourth quarter. When walking off the field, he seemed to indicate that he had torn his pectoral muscle, Pryor’s colleague Field Yates tweets. Any significant absence for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year could be crippling for the Steelers.

Watt led the league in sacks for the second straight year in 2021, notching 22.5. That provided a fruitful return on investment for Pittsburgh, after they signed him to a four-year, $112MM deal in the lead-up to the campaign. The 27-year-old was only eclipsed by Aaron Donald this summer as the league’s highest-paid defender with annual average of over $28MM per year.

Even with Watt at full health, depth in the edge rush department had been seen as a need for the team this offseason. As a result, it came as little surprise when they traded for Malik Reed from the Broncos. He would be next in line to take on a starting role, and Pittsburgh would need to be active in looking for veteran additions in a similar vein to their Melvin Ingram addition last season.

The fact that Harris’ injury was a foot ailment is also concerning, given that fact that he suffered a Lisfranc sprain in training camp. He had recovered in time to play the Steelers’ season opener, though he only received 10 carries before exiting the game. After his Pro Bowl rookie season last year, Harris is expected to once again be a focal point of the team’s offense and would represent a massive loss in the event of an extended absence.

The Steelers have beaten the Bengals after a wild overtime finish, but the victory may very well have come at an enormous cost.