James Conner, Steelers Reportedly Agree to 4-Year Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16: James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers tosses the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the game at Heinz Field on October 16, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Panthers won 21-16. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed Thursday to a four-year deal with rookie running back James Conner, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. 

The Steelers selected Conner with the 105th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Spotrac estimated his rookie deal will be worth a total of $3,177,188, and he'll carry an estimated cap hit of $641,571 in his first season. 

The Steelers shared a photo of Conner signing the contract:

"We're very excited about this young man," Steelers running backs coach James Saxon said in a statement on the team's official site. "Excellent football player, hard worker. He is a no-frills football player running the ball downhill. He is a great guy. What he does as a football player is what we want."

Conner ran for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final season with the Pittsburgh Panthers. He added 21 catches for 302 yards and four touchdowns, too.

The 22-year-old had to put his football career on hold in December 2015 after he announced he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. But last May, doctors declared him cancer-free.

Conner couldn't have asked for a better situation to start his NFL career. Not only does the Erie, Pennsylvania, native get to play close to home, he's joining a team for which the running game is a staple of its offense.

Conner won't replace incumbent starting running back Le'Veon Bell any time soon, but he could occupy a role similar to DeAngelo Williams, who had 98 carries for 343 yards and four touchdowns while backing Bell up in 2016.

Bell is also playing the 2017 season under the franchise tag. If the Steelers are high enough on Conner's potential, they could make him the starting running back in 2018 should they reach a contract stalemate with Bell.

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