Le’Veon Bell’s talent and the value he adds to an offense is unquestioned. He is the top running back in the league and deserves to be paid like it. However, he is not worth the record deal he is asking for from the Steelers.
As expect, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell for the second straight year guaranteeing him $14.5 million in 2018. It also appears as though the two sides are in a stalemate when it comes to contract negotiations.
Holdouts don’t accomplish anything when it comes to the negotiating with Pittsburgh’s front office. They never have and likely never will.
It doesn’t help that Bell reportedly turned down a five-year deal last year that would have paid him more than $3 million more than the second-highest paid back in the league. Now Bell expects at least $15 million per year.
It’s hard to argue his point of view. He’s not just the best running backs in the game, but he’s one of the best players in the entire league. He is a franchise player who can carry an offense.
Bell is going to touch the ball 28 times per game—and probably won’t lose a yard on any of them. His average of 129 yards from scrimmage per game is second to none. He can line up all over the field and is a devastating blocker. He wants paid for all of it.
However, his opinion that the Steelers underappreciated him is ridiculous.
lol what more I gotta do to be wanted? https://t.co/Dq5oe5hRZ4
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) March 6, 2018
The Steelers are a team that doesn’t shy away from paying players their worth. Last year they wanted to make him the highest paid running back in the league—by a lot. He declined.
They should make a similar offer this year. He deserves a large contract, but is he really worth nearly twice as much as LeSean McCoy or Devonta Freeman? Should the Steelers commit $15 million to a running back when there are rookies like Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara producing at an All-Pro level? When the Super Bowl included players such as LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, James White and Dion Lewis?
Talented, affordable running backs are found all over the league. Whether it is featuring James Conner, signing a free agent, or finding a rookie in the draft, there are numerous avenues the Steelers could explore.
Would there be a drop off without Bell in the offense? Probably. But with Ben, Brown, JuJu, and Bryant, the Steelers are still a contender. They’d also have cap dollars to invest elsewhere, specifically the defense—but that is another article for another day.
Brace yourself for a long offseason of posturing from Bell, but in the end, it won’t mean much. The Steelers aren’t going to blink in this situation and if Bell wants to agree to a long-term deal, it’s going to have to be to Pittsburgh’s terms, not his.