The Pittsburgh Steelers are in for an active offseason, deciding what to do with 18 unrestricted free agents. That includes running back James Conner, whose production and reliability have dropped drastically since he made the Pro Bowl in his first season as the starter in 2018.
It's highly unlikely Conner returns to the Steelers, and he'll be pursuing free agency along with other top free-agent running backs. Conner will be looking to earn much more money than his less-than $1M per year annual salary in Pittsburgh. Other teams may be hesitant about his injury history, but the 25-year-old has been a pretty productive player when on the field.
Conner can add value to a team in need of more depth. With that in mind, here is a prediction on three possible landing spots for the running back.
3. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are looking for running backs with high-priced free agent Todd Gurley on the move. Backup RB Brian Hill is also a free agent, leaving the Falcons with little-used fourth-year RB Ito Smith as their top reserve heading into free agency. Conner is a capable runner and receiving back who Atlanta should be able to sign at a discount.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are one of eight team with more than $30 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. The Dolphins desperately need help at running back with third-year RB Myles Gaskin the teams leading rusher with 584 yards in 2020. Backup Matt Breida is a free agent. Miami will be pursuing running backs, and Conner can fit into a young roster on the rise.
1. New York Jets
If Conner can get the money and doesn't mind playing for a losing team in major rebuild mode, then the New York Jets are an option. The Jets have tons of cap space, and second-year RB La'Mical Perine is listed as the starter after just 232 rushing yards last year. Gone to free agency is 37-year-old Frank Gore, the teams leading rusher last year (653). The Jets' very weak running game needs replacements and reinforcements, and Conner is more than capable.
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