David Johnson hopes Le’Veon Bell gets the “deal he deserves”

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Plenty of people are paying plenty of attention to whether Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell parlays his franchise tender into a long-term deal. No one is paying closer attention than Cardinals running back David Johnson.

I hope he gets the deal he deserves,” Johnson told Andy Benoit of TheMMQB.com. “I hope it’s going to be the type of deal that cornerbacks get and quarterbacks get.”

Johnson hopes that Bell gets the “deal he deserves” in part because Johnson is the next young running back to eventually get the kind of deal Bell secures. The question continues to be whether the Steelers will give Bell a multi-year contract that uses his $12.1 million franchise tender as the starting point.

Even then, Bell would fall far short of cornerback Josh Norman’s $15 million per year, and Bell would still be at roughly 50 cents on the dollar of the temporary high-water mark for quarterback deals, with Derek Carr at $25 million annually. Given the prevalence of running backs who are nearly as good as guys like Bell and Johnson and dramatically cheaper to sign, it will be very hard for the running back market to flourish the way it once did.

Johnson is understandably optimistic that a golden age is coming.

“I feel like, especially now, with the running backs we have in this league, we’re going to definitely change the mentality of the running back and those contract deals,” Johnson said. “We’re going to definitely make it [understood] that running backs are more important than you’d think. Everyone thinks it’s a passing league, but I think running backs are starting to show up and show out and prove that you need a good one to be a capable team.”

He’s right, but the fact remains that a “good one” can be found in most rounds of the draft or undrafted, since pretty much every major college football program has a running back good enough to move the chains at the NFL level if he gets adequate blocking. With supply far outweighing demand, it will be difficult for the best of the running backs to get paid — especially since many of them are chewed up by the time they become eligible for a new deal.

That’s what Johnson needs to be the most worried about. With 373 touches in the second year of a slotted contract that paid him $525,000 and as many or more touches planned for 2017, when he’ll make $615,000, Johnson may not have much tread left on the tires when the time comes to get paid truly significant money.

It’s a harsh reality of pro football that has caused players like former NFL running back Ben Tate to lament not becoming a defensive back. And it’s a factor that physically-gifted youths should be considering before they fully embrace the glory and thrill that comes from being the guy who runs circles around high-school and college defenders en route to thousands of rushing yards and dozens of touchdowns.

22 responses to “David Johnson hopes Le’Veon Bell gets the “deal he deserves”

  1. le’veon doesn’t possess the greatest ability of all (according to his own teammate, shazier, anyway): availability.

  2. Why even write the article? Why not just send the title out on the twitter? Everyone could fill in the blanks on why David Johnson would want that.

  3. I too would be pissed at a mere 12.1 million a year, I told my employer..no way…waiting for them to get back to me..

  4. Sorry David, but you are proof that you needn’t drop 12 million on a RB. There are new young guys that roll into the league every year that can carry the rock. Besides, 26 hasn’t proven that he can either stay healthy, or out of trouble.

  5. If Arizona was smart, they would trade this guy after the season.

    When Pitt caves for Bell’s deal, it will allow Johnson to seek a similar deal or worse for Arizona’s cap health.

    I am convinced these players have no real interest in winning, just to make the most money and get ego strokes.

  6. What deal would that be? 3 to 5 years for possession with intent to deliver?
    ———————————–
    We’ve got a strong early candidate for today’s best comment.

  7. Pittsburgh would be fine with DeAngelo Williams starting! I’d trade Bell for 2 first round picks and more..

  8. It boggles the mind that Le’Veon Bell could run WILD for 170 yards in the Steelers playoff game against the Chiefs and yet Big Dummy couldn’t come up with a SINGLE TOUCHDOWN.

    I can think of about 50 other quarterbacks — starters and backups, NFL and college — who could do better than that.

  9. If it wasn’t for football Le’Veon (why the hell is there an apostrophe?) would be in jail or selling us fries from McDondald’s (that is how you use an apostrophe).

  10. painsyndicate says:
    Jul 10, 2017 10:50 AM
    If it wasn’t for football Le’Veon (why the hell is there an apostrophe?) would be in jail or selling us fries from McDondald’s (that is how you use an apostrophe).

    ——————————————————————-

    Unfortunately, that’s not how you spell “McDonald’s”

  11. he (bell) won’t get it. steelers will be fine having him play under the tag this year. he needs to prove a.) he can stay healthy, and b.) he can stay out of trouble. so far he has done neither. thus, no leverage.

  12. silvernblacksabbath says:
    Jul 10, 2017 10:37 AM
    Pittsburgh would be fine with DeAngelo Williams starting! I’d trade Bell for 2 first round picks and more..

    5 3
    Report comment

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    Any GM that would trade 2 1st rd picks “and more” for Leveon Bell not only would need to be fired, but also clinically examined.

    It’s not just the capital needed to acquire the player, but the cost that player would take up against the cap.

    Why can’t a crap team just draft a Bell-style player in the draft with a rookie cap contract?

    It’s fascinating watching GMs and fans simply not get it.

  13. By accomplishments on the field he should get top RB money. But he is one instance away from significant suspension and has been frequently injured. To be honest, I think he is going to hit the FA market after this year. I don’t think he is budging on what he wants and I think he is too big of a liability to pay 15+ million per season. I’m going to caveat this all by saying I’m a Steelers fan. I would like to keep Bell, but don’t see it happening because I think he’s staying firm on his numbers and it’s obvious the Steelers FO doesn’t put his value at the same level.

  14. %ylawspick6 says:
    Jul 10, 2017 10:04 AM

    “I am convinced these players have no real interest in winning, just to make the most money and get ego strokes.”

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    Quaterbacks are the only ones who have any real incentive to want to win because no matter what, they will be taken care of financially. Also, the amount they win cements their legacy. Think about it, Barry Sanders is arguably the best running back ever and he never won a Super Bowl, does anyone hold that against him? Dan Marino was one the most prolific passers ever but he never won a super bowl, so he is never mentioned as one of the greats. My point is winning is for the quaterbacks, everyone else is just a hired hand trying to get paid. A temp. If they win yeah that’s great. They’re are some players out their besides qb’s that want to win but this is a volatile sport and is short term for about 90 percent of it’s staff. Ego strokes are a superficial perk of doing what they do, you think they don’t deserve it? I think they do.

    First, the market drives this behavior of making the most money while you can because you next play could be your last.

    Second, think about this. Rookie running backs who are labeled a dime a dozen, rises to the elite at the professional level and they only really get one chance at a big payday. As soon as they hit 30, they will be replaced by younger and cheaper options. Even if they are still producing at a high level they have to fight for everything they get in todays NFL. Backs have to fight off the next young and hungry runner who will undercut them and do it for less while hoping for no serious injuries and dealing with tightwad owners/ gm’s who lowball them at every turn with age, injury and how the league is more pass heavy.

    So yeah, I sympathize with running backs in todays NFL, especially Bell who is without question an elite talent and Pittsburgh is doing him wrong by tagging him. He hasn’t done himself any favors with his bonehead failed drug test and his untimely injury, but still. They know Bell’s got the goods, they are just trying to coax his best year out of him on the franchise tag. Bell would be making a mistake giving into the team, this is his one shot at securing his future.

    Pittsburgh needs Bell a heck of a lot more that they are leading on. If they don’t get a deal worked out by the deadline, I wouldn’t show up until opening day. Then I would play out my deal and be such a pain in the ass to deal with and I damn sure wouldn’t show any loyalty to a team that strung me out and made me wait another year to lockup my long term financial payday. I would simply take the biggest signing bonus and never look back.

    Running backs are the step-children of the NFL. While the days of 30 carries a game are few and far between, they do so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet like keeping the franchises biggest investment (qb) upright from bigger and stronger lineman and backers.

    No question the game is more passer friendly but just keep in mind when it hits December and the weather gets nasty and the games start to count, its oddly funny how the air gets taken out of the football and the running back is once again significant. Running backs are criminally underpaid, especially the elite ones who are like four leaf clovers.

  15. I’m sorry, but I have to take exception to Florio’s comment about “truly significant money”.

    I’ve been working in my chosen profession for nearly 20 years. I earn what I think to be a pretty good salary, and it took me all of the 20 years to get to this level. In 2017, David Johnson is slotted to make more than 6 times what I currently earn. When you add up his 2016 and 2017 salaries, he’s earned about what I have in my nearly 20 years combined.

    I guess what I’m saying is there is a pretty big discrepancy between what a successful person in an entertainment industry earns, versus what a successful person in a “normal” industry earns. I understand free market and all, and more power to those who can earn it, but this is one of the many reasons why average persons have such a hard time empathizing with athletes’ salaries.

    If you want to say “truly significant versus market value”, I’m fine with that.

  16. mysterytonite says:
    Jul 10, 2017 11:49 AM

    No question the game is more passer friendly but just keep in mind when it hits December and the weather gets nasty and the games start to count, its oddly funny how the air gets taken out of the football and the running back is once again significant.

    ———–

    Yeah….that is the time of year that Bell is all to often done for the season…..like in last year’s AFCCG.

    The Steelers would be crazy to pay any RB what Bell wants….

  17. Le’Veon Bell is the best RB in the NFL and he deserves to be paid accordingly. Many will disagree with me but if the Steelers genuinely want him long term, it’s time to pay the man!

  18. The Steelers have wisely invested in developing and maintaining
    a top-5 OL line. Having the best RB in the league is a nice bonus and all,
    but that offense will still be fine with the 15 th best RB sharing duties
    with a number of other young RBs.

    The key to the Steelers success will be building that defense back up
    to Steelers standards. I hope Le’Veon realizes this and doesn’t ask
    for a rapper’s ransom – if he wants to remain a Steeler. They can afford to
    pay him this year, but it wouldn’t make sense to pay him top money long term.
    That Defense has to eat too. Tuitt and Shazier are getting hungry.

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