Did the Steelers give up on RB James Conner too soon?

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Most often, when a player leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers via free agency, no one gives it much thought. The front office has earned the trust of the fans and in most cases, if the team doesn’t pursue an in-house free agent, there is a good reason for it.

However, looking at the running back position, the Steelers might have missed the mark. No, we aren’t talking about not paying Le’Veon Bell what he wanted. This was one of the smartest front-office decisions of the Kevin Colbert era.

We are talking about the decision to not attempt to re-sign running back James Conner. Pittsburgh chose to let Conner leave as they transitioned to rookie running back Najee Harris. This did two things. First, it got rid of the Steelers best running back from the last three seasons and it left the running back depth chart thin.

Perhaps the worry was Conner wanted a starting job and Pittsburgh had other plans. Well, with the Arizona Cardinals, Conner has appeared in all seven games with zero starts but has 336 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

Maybe the worry was a huge contract. No, that won’t work. The contract Conner signed with the Cardinals was worth $1.75 million. By comparison, the 2021 cap hit for Benny Snell Jr. is $1.025 million.

This in no way diminishes the value of Harris in the Steelers offense for the long term. But how great would it be to have Conner as a guy to spell Harris and provide some real veteran leadership? When Conner was drafted by Pittsburgh he was instantly a hero. Local college star with a comeback story worthy of a 30 for 30. And the team let him leave.

But I want to pass the question off to you. Did the Steelers make a mistake by not doing more to keep Conner? Let us know in the comments below.

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