Updated: Sep 27, 2020
There’s no denying that James Conner has been a Pittsburgh favorite ever since his days at Pitt. Conner, who also happened to beat cancer but he has said multiple times in numerous interviews that he doesn’t want that to be his defining trait. After playing in the shadow of Bell, Conner really made a name for himself. Other than a slight injury history the Steelers have much to look forward this year under Conner. It seems even though it hasn’t been a very typical offseason for Conner we have seen nothing but business as usual for Conner. From the numerous workout videos over the offseason and the posting of his diet we have seen a very personal look on Conner and I for one am very excited to see how he will play over this unprecedented season.
With a committee of running backs behind him expect the Steelers running backs to post good numbers under the leadership of Ben Roethlisberger. One thing to cap off this article I would like to talk about is how good Conner catches the ball. After being spoiled by Bell we have also been lucky to have Conner. Since the start of his career in the NFL in 2017, Conner has accrued 748 yards total and that’s with injuries and a year without his starting quarterback. I expect seeing him still as the future back with over 50 receptions. I think with a potentially rusty Ben, hopefully, we see a motivated Conner as a potential crowded running back free-agency looms on the horizon for the University of Pittsburgh product.
Could we see Conner leaving the Steelers? Maybe. It would really stink, however, if he doesn't perform as well as fans expect, we might see him walking out the door and trying his luck somewhere else. Still, he is the ultimate Pittsburgh running back who is also a really intelligent young man who does so much for his city. This summer, I have also enjoyed watching his and Minkah's friendly rowing machine competitions. It's just hard to imagine being able to pay Conner the amounts that many of the other top running backs have been making based on his injury history. However, if he stays healthy, he might be up to make himself some good money for his running, catching and blocking abilities.
With the new contracts of Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara could that increase the market for Conner? Maybe... However, they haven't been as plagued with injuries as much as Conner has. After, Le'Veon Bell resetting the market with the help from Zeke. These types of contracts will only help players like Conner possibly find good deals in the next year. Before this year, there were going to be a ton of running backs up for contract in 2021. Conner will still be in that group. Expect a very motivated Conner to prove that he can be a reliable RB1.