The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed running back LeGarrette Blount, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Steelers gave RB LeGarrette Blount a two-year, $3.85M deal, including a $950K signing bonus.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2014
Marc Sessler of NFL.com thinks that Blount and Le'Veon Bell will fit together quite nicely.
Think LeGarrette Blount is an ideal fit for the Steelers running game. Pairing of Blount & Bell feels very Pittsburgh.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 28, 2014
And he's right. The signing of Blount, alongside Bell, gets the Steelers back to the days of ground-and-pound football, which should take a ton of pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger.
Blount is a power runner and had a fine season for the New England Patriots last year, rushing for 772 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging a healthy five yards per carry. The 6'0", 250-pound back was even better in the playoffs, rushing for 172 yards on 29 carries and four touchdowns.
Blount's a power back, and that's exactly what Bell is. The 6'1", 244-pound rusher had a good rookie season, rushing for 860 yards and eight touchdowns.
With this move, the Steelers are signaling that they want to load up on the run. They want to pound the ball down the middle. It signals a lack of faith in their receiving core, especially since they lost Emmanuel Sanders.
The Steelers want to run the ball a lot. When Blount, who will probably be the starter, gets tired, defenses will have to deal with Bell. Tired defenses are going to get banged up trying to stop these two physical runners.
There is a counterargument to all this. Wouldn't the Steelers be better off with Bell as the power back and signing or drafting a shiftier, speedy back? Someone who can get to the outside and make guys miss? Someone who is also a threat out of the backfield on third downs? There is a lot of truth to that. The Steelers do not have anyone like that on their roster.
Do You Agree With This Signing?
That said, Pittsburgh's running game was putrid last season, as it averaged just 86.4 yards per game, which was ranked 28th in the league. They can't afford to employ someone who doesn't attack holes. They need someone who is going to dive up the middle and get to the second level. Both Bell and Blount can do that.
And defenses are going to struggle to adjust. Imagine in the fourth quarter of a close game when the opposing defensive line is tired—that's when Blount will shine. He's a battering ram, and no defensive tackle wants to face that in the fourth quarter in frigid Pittsburgh.
It's an inspired signing by the team. It should take pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger now that there is a legitimate running game. Big Ben took 43 sacks last year. The running game should keep defenses honest enough that they won't blitz every play.
Blount and Bell could combine to rush for over 2,000 yards, and this duo will help the Steelers get back into the playoffs.
The big question is, who is going to start and how will the carries will be distributed? Based on pedigree, it should be Blount, although the Steelers would be wise to split carries evenly.
The Steelers have always been a running team. Last year, they could not run the ball at all. This year, they will get back to what has always made them successful—pounding the rock.