What would it take to get Le’Veon Bell signed to a long-term deal?

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At a time when there isn’t as much NFL news to go around, many in the media are hoping to speak intelligently on the travel habits of Pittsburgh Steeler Le’Veon Bell. And even though he hasn’t signed his franchise tender, which makes him no more of an employee of the Steelers than me, many are still wondering whether he’ll attend the team’s mandatory minicamp.

Contrary to assertions made elsewhere, Bell can indeed attend and participate, if he wants. He needs merely to sign a letter of protection, which would guarantee that he’ll receive his full franchise tender of $12.1 million if he suffers a serious injury during the minicamp. But why would he? His leverage toward a long-term deal comes from withholding services.

His window for doing a long-term deal closes on July 15. Inspired by this item from Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, let’s consider what it could take to get him under contract.

The math is fairly simple. With $12.1 million in the bank for 2017, Bell can fairly request that plus a 20-percent raise (which would be his franchise tender for 2018), fully guaranteed at signing. That’s $26.6 million covering the first two years of the contract, with some sort of a team-held option for the years beyond that.

Given Bell’s history of injuries and suspensions, the team could be looking for a structure that protects them against further incidents of either type. Per-game roster bonuses guard against time missed due to bumps and bruises; voidable guarantees and/or signing bonuses that can be pursued for reimbursement give the team a way to minimize the impact of a suspension.

For that reason, Bell could be looking for a large roster bonus and/or base salary in 2017, with the goal of pocketing as much cash as possible in the first year — and having none of it subject to future forfeiture.

Regardless of how the deal is put together, what the deal pays will be the key. And with $12.1 million in hand for the coming year, Bell could always choose to bank that cash and do the dance again next year. If the Steelers tag him in 2018, he’ll make $26.6 million over two years with a crack at the open market in 2019. If they don’t tag him for a second time, he’ll hit the market in 2018.

That may make the most sense for Bell. As long as he signs the franchise tender before the Steelers possibly realize that their dramatically cheaper in-house options are good enough to justify saving $12.1 million and rescinding the tag. While that’s still highly unlikely, it remains theoretically possible until Bell inks the tender — which he can wait to do until just a few days before the regular-season opener and still get the full $12.1 million.

12 responses to “What would it take to get Le’Veon Bell signed to a long-term deal?

  1. Maybe Rooney could use his influence with the league to have Bell’s name mysteriously disappear from the random drug testing schedule? That would probably do it.

  2. After Bell was only able to play 6 snaps in the AFCCG, he told any media outlet that would listen, that Trippin’ Tomlin and the Steelers organization, were well aware of the severity of his injury. After all he had missed a couple of practices because of it. Last I heard was that the NFL was going to “look into” this blatant act of cheating. Goodell has stated that any act of cheating, large or small, affected the “integrity of the game and will not be tolerated.”

  3. Is there a chance that Pitt drafted Conner to replace Bell…? Everyone might dislike this idea…. but its a thought. If Conner can take his game to the NFL maybe Pitt lets Bell and his demands and baggage walk… JUST A THOUGHT

  4. No point in investing millions and millions of dollars in a running back just so Tomlin can “run him until the wheels fall off” before playoff time.

    You can do that with an undrafted rookie running back and still lay a turd come playoff time … if there is one.

  5. After the AFCCG epic beatdown and brutally clear idea of the gap between the Steelers and what it would take to overcome the likes of the Pats or Falcons to lift the SB, it would have been a great moment to pension off Big Ben (or preferably have him support an exciting youngster) and get rid of the troublesome likes of Bell and Brown, and Trip too, and go into rebuild. But they’ve developed nothing behind Big Ben (even Julian Edelman is a better QB than Landry).

    And I think that’s why Ben decided not to retire just yet and why the Steelers now have 4 QBs on their roster in a desperate effort to find his successor – better late than never, I suppose, but this team will get worse before it gets better again.

  6. I think they’re better to just franchise him again in 2018 and let him walk. RB are nearly disposable in current NFL. He’s a good one who has missed 17 games in 4 seasons. He’s not reliable, and I’d bet that Ben plays out his last two years and is done.

  7. “As long as he signs the franchise tender before the Steelers possibly realize that their dramatically cheaper in-house options are good enough to justify saving $12.1 million and rescinding the tag.”

    Unless David Johnson has somehow become one of Pittsbugh’s in house options Bell has nothing to fear. He is that good.

    A Pats fan

  8. Sign the man!!!! Dominant rbs are hard to come by these days. With LB and an improved D, the Steelers have a chance at winning one if not multiple sb’s.

  9. All they need offer him is free meals and an oz of pot every other week! He’ll sign tonight!

  10. streetyson says:
    Jun 13, 2017 11:22 AM

    And I think that’s why Ben decided not to retire just yet and why the Steelers now have 4 QBs on their roster in a desperate effort to find his successor – better late than never, I suppose, but this team will get worse before it gets better again.

    ***************************************************************************

    Seriously? They have 4 QBs on their roster because they’re figuring out how the #2 and #3 spots are going to pan out. Jones hasn’t shown to be a reliable backup. The intent with Dobbs is that he’ll push Jones for the backup spot. Bart Houston likely won’t be on the roster come Week 1. There is no serious expectation that any of these 3 are going to ultimately replace Roethlisberger. Sometimes I have a hard time deciding whether people actually believe the stuff they post on here.

  11. Bell needs a team that forgives all felonies. Wait. He’s already got that. Think of something else.

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