It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t exactly give their running back room a boost during the 2022 offseason. They let last year’s free agent signee Kalen Ballage walk and added two undrafted free agent running backs. You can make two assumptions based on what they’ve done this offseason. They either are confident in Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland, or they’re patiently waiting to see what happens with a couple teams that have a stacked back fields in their division.
Jaylen Warren, and Mataeo Durant are the two backs the Steelers added following the 2022 NFL Draft. Both come with a little bit of name recognition even though they were undrafted. Warren transferred from Utah State to Oklahoma State for his final collegiate season. He rushed for 1216 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Durant was a first team All-ACC selection last year while rushing for 1241 yards and a team high 9 touchdowns at Duke.
While it’s fun to hope for the next Willie Parker with Durant, or Warren it’s very unlikely. Thats why the Steelers could be turning their attention to cut down day following training camp. Under Kevin Colbert the Steelers routinely added veterans via trade right before the start of the season. Look no further than last year when they traded for Ahkello Witherspoon days before week 1. Tight end Vance McDonald was also a training camp trade addition. They also traded for Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert near the beginning of the season. New general manager Omar Khan was around when all of those moves happened.
The Cleveland Browns have the best one two punch in football with Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. But back up D’Ernest Johnson has gotten plenty of playing time the past two seasons because of injuries to those two. Last year Johnson rushed for 534 yards and 3 touchdowns on 100 rushing attempts. Behind Johnson is Jerome Ford who the Browns selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft. They also have John Kelly Jr, and Demetric Felton, Jr.
A lot of Browns fans believe that Hunt is going to be on the trading block, because he’s going to be a free agent in 2023. Johnson is also going to be an unrestricted free agent after signing a one year tender this offseason. It’s likely they’ll lose both next offseason and while Hunt might command more of a return it would make no sense to get rid of Hunt with the uncertainty at quarterback. Shipping Johnson out for a smaller return could be the better move for the Browns. But then again, it’s the Browns so they’ll probably give away Hunt for nothing.
Now the Baltimore Ravens actually had a back field that consisted of Latavious Murray, Le’Veon Bell, and DeVonta Freeman last season. If it was 2015 it would’ve been the greatest back field ever assembled. But it wasn’t and none of them remain on the Ravens roster in 2022. Baltimore lost Gus Edwards, and JK Dobbs for the season early on last year and the Ravens left no rock unturned while they looked for some help.
With everyone returning healthy the Ravens have Dobbs, Edwards, Justice Hill, 6th round draft pick Tyler Badie, and free agent signing Mike Davis. The top two won’t be going anywhere, but Davis could be the odd man out when cut down day comes. Davis was signed as an insurance option after the Falcons cut him.
Davis signed with the Falcons after becoming a household name in Carolina. Davis was the back up to often injured Christian McCaffery and found success during his time replacing McCaffery in the lineup. Davis was very underwhelming for the Falcons last year after signing a two year contract and was released this offseason.
If the Ravens decide to keep Davis then Hill would likely be the odd man out unless they decide to try and stash Badie on the practice squad. Hill was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft by the Ravens and missed all of last season with a torn achilles. On the Locked On Ravens podcast recently they explored the thought that the Ravens are looking for a trade partner for Hill. Hill hasn’t been very productive during his NFL career, but he’s been stuck at third on the depth chart his entire career.
At Oklahoma State Hill was a stud. He ran for 3539 yards and 30 touchdowns during his three years there. During his brief NFL career his top two rushing outputs came against the Steelers in 2019 (10-39) and 2020 (9-35). He also scored a touchdown against the Steelers in 2019.
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