Another in a position-by-position series examining the Steelers' roster in advance of the start of free agency.
(Free Agent Scorecard at the position: 3 unrestricted free agents – Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones, LaRod Stephens-Howling)
Got some carries late last preseason and stuck on the practice squad. Signed a futures contract after the 2013 season for another go at it in 2014.
There are some positions where the Steelers are set when it comes to having the right man for the starting job. Quarterback is one. Center is one. Running back is one now, too. Bell is everything the Steelers hoped when they spent a No. 2 pick on him last April – a three-down back who can run it, catch it, protect the quarterback. He's athletic and a tough guy when necessary. The total package.
Getting waived at the end of the preseason might have been an epiphany for Dwyer, who was re-signed about two weeks later as injury insurance. If Dwyer is going to be the guy he was over the second half of 2014, he would be worthy of bringing back as an unrestricted free agent. Or was that just another tease? That's the $1 million question, maybe literally.
Fills the role of fullback nicely, and he could contribute more as a receiver if given the opportunity. NFL fullbacks these days have the blocking-receiving skill combination, and this describes Johnson.
Signed on Aug. 23 as injury insurance, Jones isn't a starting-caliber player at this stage and maybe not even better than Dwyer with the ball in his hands. If he can be brought back under reasonable terms as an unrestricted free agent, Jones could provide competition and a veteran presence for this unit. Something to consider.
Signed to a futures contract and had practice squad stints with four different teams in 2013.
An underrated loss during that opening day massacre that also claimed Maurkice Pouncey and Larry Foote. He's a great complementary player, with speed, receiving skills, and more toughness than you might expect from someone his size. An unrestricted free agent coming off ACL surgery could turn out to be a bargain.