Le'Veon Bell

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Le’Veon Bell’s Value

The Steelers are willing to pay for the position, Bell wants to be paid as a player.

July 17, 2018 - 10:24 am

Mid-July means a couple of things. The MLB All-Star break. The Open Championship. Hot days and warm nights. And maybe if you’re lucky, you get to escape to a lake house for a few days. Oh, and Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers disagreeing about a contract. Again. 

The sports calendar has a rhythm to it. January and the first week of February is for the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. March brings Madness. Then April you have the Masters. May is the Run for the Roses. June brings the NBA Finals. And July brings Le’Veon contract talks.

Every year it feels like something is going to get done and then it doesn’t. At this time last year, they came close to getting a deal done, but it just didn’t happen. And this year again, they reportedly came very close to getting a deal done before yesterday’s 4pm deadline and it just didn’t happen.

Which means that he’ll play under the franchise tag this season and it may very well be Bell’s final year in Pittsburgh. Because while Bell on a 14.5 mill tag this year is something the Steelers will do, Bell on a tag next year of nearly 25 mill is something they most definitely won’t do.  

Bell tweeted: ‘to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let you down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date...’

According to NFL.com, Bell turned down a 70 million dollar deal yesterday. Which sounds completely and utterly insane. You’re 26. A five year deal takes you into your thirties. 70 mill is a boatload of money, why would you turn that down?

Well, because according to Ian Rapoport, it only included 33 million in guaranteed money. So in Bell’s eyes, he wasn’t turning down 70 million, he was turning down 33 mill. 

The conflict is pretty simple. The Steelers are willing to pay for the position, Bell wants to be paid as a player. 

And the reason why something hasn’t gotten done is because they’re both right. The Steelers are right to say we’ll pay you like the best running back in the league, but we’re not going to pay you like the best running back and a number two wide receiver. They’re right about that. 

Bell is saying don’t pay me for my position, pay me for my production. Don’t pay me as a running back. Pay me as a playmaker. And game breaker. Forget about where I line up and focus on what I do, which is break records each and every year. And he’s right, too.

They’re right and he’s right. Unstoppable force meet immovable object. And both of you, meet continued drama. 

The Steelers reportedly offered 14 million per year, although not all of it guaranteed. Bell reportedly wants 17 mill, which is more than double the second-highest paid running back in the league. It’s not my money, but he’s worth it. He’s that good. And the Steelers are that good with him. They are a Super Bowl challenge with him and just a decent team without him.

Which is why you now hear the threat that he’ll hold out this season. Yeah, I doubt that. It would cost him nearly 900 grand per week. I’ve heard the argument about wanting to save the tread on the tires and hit free agency next year fresh, but you’re not losing  nearly a mill per week for the privilege of not playing and being fresh for free agency. Because it would be nearly impossible to get that money back. 

But you can pretty much bet that we’ll get a repeat of last year. Don’t show for training camp, report at the last minute, and start cashing checks. 

And that’s the biggest problem for Bell. He’s worth what he says he’s worth, but he’s probably never going to see it. Not from the Steelers and not from free agency. The ugly truth is that he’s probably not going to get the kind of money he wants on the open market, but I fully respect his desire to get it. Football is a brutal game. You’re always one play away from having your career ended, so you’ve got to get what you can while you can. And get as much of it as you can.

Just know that whatever you get, it probably won’t be what you’re worth. Nor what you want. I’d ask to if I were him, just don’t expect to get it.