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Steelers Surprisingly Opt Out of Fifth-Year Option for RB Najee Harris

There’s a twist in Najee Harris’ journey with the Pittsburgh Steelers, suggesting that his tenure might be shorter than anticipated.

Gerry Dulac from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers won’t be exercising their fifth-year option on Harris, meaning he’ll hit unrestricted free agency after the 2024 season.

Dulac shared the news on social media, catching many Steelers observers off guard.

Christopher Carter admitted to a miscalculation in his expectations, reflecting the sentiment of others covering the team.

Both Alex Kozora from Steelers Depot and Daniel Valente from The Score voiced their surprise and skepticism over the decision. Kozora highlighted Harris’ consistent performance, questioning what more he could have done to earn the extension, while Valente pointed out the comparative affordability of the fifth-year option.

Harris has been a stalwart for the Steelers, consistently delivering over 1,000 rushing yards each season and earning a Pro Bowl nod in his rookie year. Last season, he showcased his versatility with over 1,000 rushing yards and significant contributions in the passing game.

Despite his on-field prowess, the Steelers have chosen to forego his fifth-year option, which would have paid him considerably less than the market average for running backs.

The decision suggests a shift in strategy for the Steelers, who are keen to evaluate Harris in their new offensive scheme before committing to a long-term deal.

Valente speculated that this move might indicate the Steelers’ intention to leverage the franchise tag if Harris has a standout season.

Najee Harris

Adding to the intrigue, the emergence of Jaylen Warren, an undrafted free agent, as a reliable backup may have influenced the Steelers’ decision-making process.

In a parallel move, the Steelers also declined the fifth-year option for quarterback Justin Fields, a decision widely expected given the hefty price tag attached to it.

With both Harris and Fields set to become free agents after the upcoming season, the Steelers face significant decisions in shaping their roster for the future.

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