Further analysis however reveals the Steelers have a serious lack of depth in this backfield.
Behind Bell this past season were Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer. Both of those guys are unrestricted free agents and I really don’t see a need to bring either back.
Arguments could be made on the part of one or the other but for me personally I say, let them go.
Isaac Redman was released back in October and is a free agent and LaRod Stephens-Howling tore his ACL and saw no action in 2013.
Obviously Redman is no longer in the picture and I think the Steelers probably have an idea where Stephens-Howling is in his rehab and that will determine whether an offer is made to retain him.
As you can see, this leaves the Steelers with essentially one running back on the roster. I have to believe the Steelers will look to the draft for a top reserve rather than look for one via free agency.
In most cases, the draft pick will come cheaper and secondly, the Steelers have other top priorities when it comes to signing free agents.
Because the Steelers have glaring needs in other areas, I think you’ll see a running back chosen in the late rounds and a lot will depend on what the Steelers are looking for in terms of speed versus power.
I expect guys like Storm Johnson of Central Florida, James White of Wisconsin and D’Anthony Thomas of Oregon to be available in rounds five, six and/or seven as things exist today. Each of those guys is a little different in terms of size and what they offer.
With four months until draft day, prospects will rise and fall but the Steelers will still need to look for some depth at running back in this year’s draft.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.