Najee Harris is entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2024, which means the Steelers have a big decision to make on the former-first round running back this offseason.
Should Pittsburgh pick up his fifth-year option?
The Steelers will have up until May 2 to exercise Harris’ fifth-year option for the 2025 season, but head coach Mike Tomlin seems to be all in on the No. 24 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“He’s been what we needed him to be. He’s a 1,000-yard rusher three straight years,” Tomlin said. “And I just think that speaks to his consistency, availability. He’s been really solid.”
Harris has rushed for at least 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in every season of his three-year NFL career. But many have argued that his numbers have been a production of quantity.
This was the first season Harris averaged at least four yards per carry (4.1). However, it can also be argued that he had been running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL to begin his career.
Nonetheless, fellow RB Jaylen Warren has proven to be more explosive, averaging 5.1 yards per rush in the first two years of his career.
This is not to say Pittsburgh should move on from Harris. But the team shouldn’t overpay to keep him with another capable running back on the roster. That doesn’t seem to be likely, however.
The projected salary for Harris’ option year is only $6.6 million, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo.
Harris is slated to earn $4.15 million in 2024. So, a $2.45 million raise to keep Harris for another year is justifiable.
Harris and Warren have created one of the better running back duos in the NFL. The Steelers shouldn’t overthink keeping the tandem together for at least another two seasons with the help of Harris’ fifth-year option.