Source: Steelers decline RB Harris' 2025 option

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PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are declining the fifth-year option for the 2025 season for running back Najee Harris on Thursday, a source told ESPN, making him a free agent after the 2024 season.

And as expected, the team also formally declined quarterback Justin Fields’ fifth-year option, sources told ESPN.

The Steelers are not ruling out agreeing to a deal with Harris after this season, however, sources told ESPN. With the new offense being installed, the feeling is the organization wants to see how Harris and the other running backs function in Arthur Smith’s offense before making a longer-term commitment to him.

Harris and Fields are the latest Steelers to have their fifth-year options declined by the team. The team also declined options for Jarvis Jones, Artie Burns, Terrell Edmunds and Devin Bush.

T.J. Watt, selected in the 2017 draft, was the last Steelers draft pick to have his fifth-year option picked up by the team. The team also picked up the option for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was drafted in 2018 by the Miami Dolphins.

Harris’ option was projected to cost the team $6.7 million, while Fields’ fully guaranteed option was scheduled to cost $25 million. Selected No. 24 overall, Harris, 26, is the first player in Steelers history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

As a rookie, Harris rarely came off the field, playing 84% of offensive snaps. But with the addition of UDFA Jaylen Warren in 2022, Harris’ role has been reduced as the team found a balance using both running backs. Warren is scheduled to be a restricted free agent after the 2024 season.

Though Harris played his fewest snaps (53%) in 2023, he had his best season as a pro, averaging 4.1 yards per carry with eight rushing touchdowns. In the final two games of the season, Harris rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games for the first time in his NFL career.

The Steelers’ run game finished 13th in the league with 2,010 rushing yards last season, up from 16th in 2022 and 29th in 2021.

I feel better about it now than I did a year ago or even two years ago,” Steelers owners and team president Art Rooney II said in January of the run game. “I really feel good about having a two-headed monster, if you will, at running back. Two different styles of running back, both very capable and really, I think — with the right offensive line — can provide a real foundation for success going forward.”

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