By: Zach Metkler, GZ Sports Report WriterFollow @GZSports_ZM
The Steelers were in need of adding depth behind star running back Le’Veon Bell after letting DeAngelo Williams hit free agency. They took their first step in addressing this need by signing free agent running back Knile Davis to a 1-year deal on Monday afternoon.
Davis, who was the Kansas City Chiefs third-round draft pick in 2013 out of Arkansas, has played in 57 games in four seasons, which includes just two with the Green Bay Packers in 2016. In those 57 games, he has 250 carries for 805 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns, while adding an additional 34 receptions for 271 yards and 1 touchdown. This ability as a dual-threat player out of the backfield gives the Steelers options behind Bell in the event that Davis’ number is called. Davis has had issues in the past with ball security but has seemingly improved in this area.
What could make Davis even more valuable for the Steelers is his experience as a kick returner while with the Chiefs. Davis has had two kickoff returns brought back for touchdowns, with one being a 106-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff in the 2015 AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Texans and the other being a 108-yard kickoff return against the Denver Broncos in 2013.
Davis will likely try to find a more permanent home with the Steelers after experiencing an tumultuous season in 2016. Within 21 days last year, Davis was traded to the Packers (on October 18) and played in two games before being waived, was claimed off of waivers by the New York Jets, who then proceeded to waive him the same day, and then ultimately was claimed by the Chiefs and returned to Kansas City.
Davis will likely carve out a role as a return man for the Steelers while providing decent depth behind Bell at running back. With Fitzgerald Toussaint being far from a guarantee to be a factor in 2017, I would still expect the Steelers to add another body at running back through the draft or later in free agency, but Davis is a nice step in the right direction.
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