After making every attempt to get younger at several key positions during the opening week of free agency, the Steelers took a look at a couple of older players Wednesday.
Veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver Lance Moore visited with the Steelers as the team looked at some possibilities to improve its depth at those positions.
Meanwhile, the team also has had discussions regarding the possible return of linebacker James Harrison.
Jones-Drew, who turns 29 Sunday, is a former All-Pro running back who has spent his NFL career with Jacksonville, which selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft.
Jones-Drew (5-7, 210) has rushed for 8,071 career yards, including 803 in 2013, with 68 touchdowns and 335 receptions for 2,873 yards.
After sharing time early in his career with Fred Taylor, Jones-Drew carried the load from 2009 through 2011, logging 954 carries to go with 130 receptions. He has missed 11 games in the past two seasons with knee and ankle issues.
The Steelers are searching for a backup to Le’Veon Bell, who set a team record for yards from scrimmage by a rookie running back with 1,259 in 2013.
Pittsburgh currently does not have a running back behind Bell who has carried the ball in a regular season game. Last season’s backups, Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling, each became unrestricted free agents when the signing period began March 11. Dwyer signed with Arizona.
The Steelers turned their attention to Jones-Drew after Green Bay free agent James Starks cancelled a trip to Pittsburgh earlier this week to re-sign with the Packers.
Jacksonville told Jones-Drew he is not in its future plans but he reportedly has several other teams vying for his services. His visit to Pittsburgh, however, was his first since free agency began.
The Steelers, who currently have around $2.4 million in remaining salary cap space, likely won’t get into a bidding war for Jones-Drew’s services.
Moore, who turns 31 in August, is viewed as insurance should free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery sign elsewhere. Cotchery, who led the Steelers with 10 touchdown receptions last season, visited with Carolina earlier this week and is reportedly deciding on offers from the Steelers and Panthers.
Moore (5-9, 190), who has 346 career receptions for 4,281 yards and 38 touchdowns, has only played for New Orleans, which signed him off Cleveland’s practice squad in 2006. Moore was signed by Cleveland as an undrafted rookie out of Toledo.
His most productive season came in 2012, when he caught 65 passes for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. He had 37 receptions for 457 and two scores in 2013.
Harrison, who turns 36 in May, has appeared in 145 career regular season games, 130 of those coming with the Steelers.
He spent 2013 with Cincinnati after balking at taking a pay cut to remain with the Steelers. Harrison, who had 30 tackles and two sacks for the Bengals in a limited role last season, was released by Cincinnati last week.
He told the NFL Network this week he’d like to return to Pittsburgh, where he still resides.
The Steelers, who released linebacker LaMarr Woodley last week in a salary cap-related move, could be in the market for a backup linebacker behind starters Jason Worilds, who remains close with Harrison and Jarvis Jones, the team’s 2013 first-round draft pick.
Meanwhile, a free agent who visited the Steelers last week, defensive end Alex Carrington, was in Cleveland Wednesday to visit with the Browns. Carrington, who was in Pittsburgh last Friday and also visited Oakland, spent the past four seasons in Buffalo, where he played for new Cleveland head coach and former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.