To finish up our look into the Steelers running back free agents we’re now going to discuss LaRod Stephens-Howling. Stephens-Howling, or “The Hyphen”, was signed by the Steelers in last year’s offseason but tore his ACL in Week 1 against Tennessee. He will become an unrestricted free agent on March 11th.
LaRod Stephens-Howling was drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. A native of Johnston, PA, Stephens-Howling played his college ball for the Pittsburgh Panthers. He was a starter for the Panthers before some kid named LeSean McCoy came and took his spot. In addition to running back he’s also served as kick returner for the four seasons he spent with the Cardinals. He’s accrued 670 rushing yards with a 3.6 yards-per-carry average and 545 receiving yards but clearly his specialty lies in the kick return game where he’s totaled 4,092 career kick return receiving yards.
There was a ton of anticipation last season as to how Stephens-Howling was going to fit into the Steelers offense and return game. His loss in Week 1 was pretty significant, even though he hadn’t been with the team very long at all. Coming off of an ACL injury he should definitely be a bargain in the contract department. Bob Labriola of the Steelers Digest explains the value he adds to a team.
“He’s a great complementary player, with speed, receiving skills, and more toughness than you might expect from someone his size.” – Bob Labriola
My guess is that if the Steelers are going to keep two out of the three free agent running backs, Stephens-Howling is likely to be one of them. He offers a good value with his skills plus the fact that he’s coming off of an ACL means his price will be right for what the Steelers can afford. I’d say the Steelers keep him and Dwyer and move on from Jones, who was only brought on for injury insurance anyway. I’d think that they aren’t going to go too heavy into the draft on the running back side, if at all.
What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Do you think the Steelers take a chance on LaRod Stephens-Howling again?