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Contract structure could be major impediment for Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

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It’s easy (but hardly cheap) to determine the basic parameters of a long-term deal with the franchise tag as the starting point. In Pittsburgh, it may not be easy to structure it that way for running back Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers like to pay out all fully-guaranteed money in the first year, with none of the money guaranteed in year two. For example, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received his full $31 million guarantee in the form of a signing bonus. Ditto for receiver Antonio Brown, who has no guarantees beyond his $19 million signing bonus.

For Bell, the standard franchise-tag formula calls for his $12.1 million franchise tender for 2017 plus a 20-percent raise for 2018 ($14.52 million) to be fully guaranteed at signing. That’s $26.62 million in full guarantees. Given the way the Steelers do business, that means a signing bonus of at least $25 million.

And that may be more than the Steelers are willing to do for a running back. So then the question becomes whether Bell will accept some other structure (for example, $15 million paid out in 2017 and another $11 million or so in injury-only guarantees for next year) or whether he’ll say, “Screw it. I’ll take $12.1 million this year and either a 20-percent raise or a shot at the market next year.”

Both Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson have demonstrated for all players the value of going year to year. For Bell, a year-to-year game of tag for two years gets him to $26.62 million. The question becomes what alternative amount or structure he’d accept to have a longer-term deal in Pittsburgh.

Since the Steelers don’t want to fully guarantee money beyond year one of any long-term deal, what’s the point of any multi-year contract with the team? If any player should be willing to seriously consider going year-to-year, then, it’s a player in Pittsburgh.

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9 Responses to “Contract structure could be major impediment for Le’Veon Bell, Steelers”
  1. bettis3636 says: Jul 17, 2017 12:30 PM

    Steelers will play him out for the 1 year and see what kinda player Conner is… i know yall wont agree with ME.. but ihave a feeling this is what Pitt is doing!

  2. redsoxu571 says: Jul 17, 2017 12:41 PM

    “Both Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson have demonstrated for all players the value of going year to year.” Meanwhile, players such as Anthony Spencer show the huge risk of going year-to-year. Keep pretending that those unfortunate cases don’t exist, though.

  3. finnymcphin says: Jul 17, 2017 12:46 PM

    “Both Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson have demonstrated for all players the value of going year to year.”

    No, Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson have demonstrated for Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson the value of going year to year. QB’s and DB’s don’t have the injury rate of RB’s, particularly Bell’s.

  4. akira1971 says: Jul 17, 2017 12:49 PM

    “Both Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson have demonstrated for all players the value of going year to year.”
    —————-

    And the opposite end, you have Darrelle Revis collecting 30m+ last two years while performance has dropped like a stone. Or how about Brock Osweiler and his locked in $22m for 2017? Or Muhammad Wilkerson’s 3yr guarantee for $54m while getting only 4.5 sacks and taking plays off?

  5. my_old_name_was_offensive says: Jul 17, 2017 12:56 PM

    the Steelers will dump him like a piece of trash after this year….that’s the type of organization they are…

  6. backuppunter says: Jul 17, 2017 1:30 PM

    Running backs in there prime should get all the money they can as quickly as they can. So many of them have a window that’s only 2-3 years where they are incredible and then…

    I know that Steelers players, even now, tend to be loyal to there franchise but if I were bell I would chase the money now. Chase the ring when you are 28 and a back up because your knees and your hips to don’t work any more.

  7. jmb82 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:12 PM

    my_old_name_was_offensive says:
    Jul 17, 2017 12:56 PM
    the Steelers will dump him like a piece of trash after this year….that’s the type of organization they are…

    Yes, a championship caliber organization who doesn’t overpay for a risky player. A team that doesn’t make rash decisions so they are in the playoff talk almost every year. A team that doesn’t throw money at everyone and hopes the team succeeds and then have to dump he player and set ge team back further. It’s called running a business, if his was Madden, I would turn the salary cap off and pay him 15 mil a year till he retires…but this isn’t Madden.

  8. jmb82 says: Jul 17, 2017 2:20 PM

    If Bell holds out, Pittsburgh will likely sign Williams if he’s still available and see what Conner has at the NFL level. Bell is great, don’t get me wrong, but he is going to price himself out of town.

  9. fsstnotch says: Jul 17, 2017 3:16 PM

    1. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell: $12.1 million
    2. Bills RB LeSean McCoy: $8 million
    3. Buccaneers RB Doug Martin: $7.2 million
    4. Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette: $6.8 million
    5. Texans RB Lamar Miller: $6.5 million
    6. Jaguars RB Chris Ivory: $6.4 million
    7. Titans RB DeMarco Murray: $6.4 million
    8. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott: $6.2 million
    9. Bengals RB Giovani Bernard: $5.2 million
    10. Vikings RB Latavius Murray: $5 million

    Great or not, no way the Steelers are paying the man $26mil for 2 years when the next highest RB would average $24mil in 3yrs. He will have to lower his expectations or hit the open market where he ends up playing for a bottom talent team with large cap space or gets paid significantly less… or both

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