The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Should Najee Harris follow Le’Veon Bell’s advice and slim down heading into his third season?
While the Pittsburgh Steelers have a history of preferring a certain physical profile from the running back position over the years, that hasn’t precluded some of those backs from altering their body type. Most notably, former Michigan Stater Le’Veon Bell trimmed down significantly after his rookie season.
Effectively though not formally retired, Bell has recently put himself back in media circulation, much of it involving commentary on both the Steelers of his time and of ours. One subject he commented on is the team’s current lead back, Najee Harris.
“I feel like he’s kind of like how I was when I first came into the league”, he said on the Steel Here podcast. “I feel like he wants to be nimble. Like he runs like a scatback, not really, but he has a lot of skiff to him. He jumps over people”.
Now, many people might be inclined to take a shoot-the-messenger approach here. A lot of Steelers fans have long grown tired of Bell and aren’t interested in what he has to say, especially anything pertaining to the team’s current running back.
But remove the messenger from the equation. Is there wisdom in Bell’s words? Could Harris benefit from shedding some from his playing weight? While it’s largely muscle weight, is he depriving himself from opening up an avenue of his game that he can better access with a more agile frame?
Granted, Harris’ biggest issue last season was playing through half of the year while dealing with a Lisfranc foot injury. One wonders how much that affected him throughout the season, even in the second half when he was having more success. But at least from appearances, it doesn’t seem as though he has any intentions this offseason of trimming down.