Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t be talking about next season

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When the Steelers were squeezing running back Le'Veon Bell to show up for camp and otherwise trying to make him look greedy or unreasonable as the 2017 season approached, I defended him. It’s hard to defend him in the aftermath of his comments from Thursday.

By talking about what he would or wouldn’t do if tagged again by the Steelers for the 2018 season, Bell necessarily is creating a distraction for a team that will have its hands full with the Jaguars on Sunday, and that could have up to two more games to play.

Apart from the fact that he should have said “I’m only focused on the next game,” a threat to sit out next season or retire if tagged for a second time is hollow and meaningless. By rule, he’d be entitled to more than $14.5 million under the tag in 2018, which dramatically exceeds the top end of the running back market. Then, come 2019, the Steelers would have to tender him at the quarterback level if they hope to restrict his rights — which they won’t do.

Worst-case scenario under the tag in 2018 would be more than $26 million earned over two seasons, plus a shot at the open market in 2019.

Apart from the distraction that Bell creates for the team is the very real question of whether he’s thinking too much about the fact that, as of Sunday, he’ll be playing extra games (and exposing his body to extra risk) for not that much extra money.

During the season, Bell’s weekly paychecks exceeded $711,000. Under the CBA, Sunday’s game is worth $28,000 per player. The next round pays out $51,000 each. And the Super Bowl share was $56,000 for every player on the losing team, $112,000 for the winning team.

So even if the Steelers win it all, Bell will be incurring injury risk for three games at a total of $191,000 — a fraction of what he was paid per week during the regular season.

Given that the prohibition on negotiating a long-term deal with a franchise-tagged player expires at the end of the regular season, a far more meaningful threat from Bell would be to refuse to play on Sunday if the Steelers don’t sign him to a long-term deal immediately. That would get their attention a lot more effectively than an implausible vow to not play at all in 2018.

36 responses to “Le’Veon Bell shouldn’t be talking about next season

  1. Sure would like to see the Jags send Pittsburgh reeling into the off-season. Bunch of drama queens. Sad that that is the most exciting thing I have to root for this time of year, but oh well, i’ll play the cards I’m dealt.

  2. Since their defeat against the Patriots the Steelers have been talking about conspiracies to make them lose, James Harrison being a traitor, guaranteeing a win in New England in two weeks and now threats of going on strike next year.
    Do they have a coach to take care of things in Pittsburgh?
    And of course in New England, they’re on to Tennessee.

  3. eh. whenever he plays he always shows up and plays amazingly well. If he slacked off on the games I’d be more annoyed at him focusing on things outside the game

    Running backs have a short life span and it just takes a major knee injury (which he’s had before)

  4. Let’s see if he can stay healthy for the playoffs. Running backs are overrated in today’s pass happy league. You can get 75% of Bell’s production for about one fifth the price.

  5. If you’ve ever been grossly underpaid compared to your coworkers you might understand that it’s hard to grin and bear it. It’s only convenient to talk about what’s fair when others are satiated? It’s his business when he talks about it. And he must feel like he has better leverage right now. He maybe right, he maybe crazy.

  6. Given that the prohibition on negotiating a long-term deal with a franchise-tagged player expires at the end of the regular season, a far more meaningful threat from Bell would be to refuse to play on Sunday if the Steelers don’t sign him to a long-term deal immediately. That would get their attention a lot more effectively than an implausible vow to not play at all in 2018.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The leverage by using that tactic is mitigated by the very real possibility he never receives an NFL paycheck again. That is the ultimate me-first move and will alienate the coaches and players of the Steelers as well as the coaches and management of every other team. This site has been pushing collusion for Kaepernick not being hired. If Bell did this, he would be without a job and it would not take any nefarious secret agreement because teams would individually come to that determination just like they did with Kap.

  7. When the Jets came for that cold temperature game, Belichick put thermometers outside their locker room.

    If they face the Steelers next week, it will be a sign that says 51K?

  8. fcoprado says:
    January 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm
    All he cares about is $$$
    ______
    Oh I’m shocked! So everyone from owners to fans cares about money but probably players can’t.

  9. As a Cardinals fan I am sooooo glad Arizona has David Johnson over L. Bell … If anyone has listened to Johnson, you know how good of a person he is, the kind of guy who puts the team first over himself. Johnson is a lot like Fitz in terms of personality. Bell is extremely selfish and it’s always me, me, me with Bell. For Bell to be talking about his next payday while his team focuses on winning a Super-Bowl tells you everything u need to know about Bell.

  10. grogansheroes says:
    January 11, 2018 at 6:35 pm
    Let’s see if he can stay healthy for the playoffs. Running backs are overrated in today’s pass happy league. You can get 75% of Bell’s production for about one fifth the price.
    ___________________________________________________-

    Actually, in today’s pass-happy NFL Running Backs in the mold of Leveon Bell & David Johnson are worth every penny as they are almost impossible to defend doubling as truly elite #2 Wide-Receivers, at least Johnson does. You can shut them down in the run game by selling out and loading the box but then are going to kill u in the passing game, destroying your LB’s all game long and Johnson regularly beats double coverage when split out wide. Finding players that can master two positions like that is extremely rare, but you are right in the fact that a regular RB is over valued in todays league but Bell & Johnson arent regular RB’s.

  11. @grogansheros
    4 teams have taken a rb with a top 10 pick the last 3 drafts. 3 of those teams made the playoffs while the 4th probably would had if the knucklehead didn’t get suspended. Every good team sooner or later has to be able to run the ball.

  12. edon8334 says:
    January 11, 2018 at 7:08 pm
    He’s only one of the best running backs in the league..replacing him should be no problem..LOL yea ok
    ———-
    But the best RBs are not worth what other key positions are. An all-pro RB can still only get you so far. ie. Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson, etc.

  13. There have been 51 Super Bowl winning teams. Every one of them won it without Le’Veon Bell. Move on Pittsburgh, let him end up 8-8 every year in Washington.

  14. vaphinfan says:
    January 11, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    4 teams have taken a rb with a top 10 pick the last 3 drafts. 3 of those teams made the playoffs
    ____________________________________

    Which means 9 teams that did not draft a RB with a top 10 pick in the last 3 drafts also made the playoffs. Bell himself was a 2nd round choice. Only one Super Bowl winner in the last 10 years has chosen a RB in the top ten, that was the Saints and Bush rushed for all of 390 yards that season. Of course running the ball when it counts most matters but unless it involves the rare incredible talent that can receive as well as he runs a top 10 pick is too high a price.

  15. Commmentawaitingdwletion

    Every team who spent a high pick on a rb made the playoffs. I’m not talking about the teams who did not if we did not. According to your logic 9 out of 28 teams who didn’t draft a rb in top ten didn’t made the playoffs. I believe my percentage is higher.

  16. “Worst-case scenario under the tag in 2018 would be more than $26 million earned over two seasons, plus a shot at the open market in 2019.”

    That’s not true. Worst case scenario (under the tag) is a career-ending injury. That’s much worse in terms of money than the guaranteed money he’d get in a multi-year deal.

  17. Say it in plain English…A player who is playing under a franchise tag in the playoffs is at a huge personal risk if they get a major injury in those extra games. If Bell tears an ACL, is he protected in anyway next year, or can he be cut without any compensation?…Florio do you have any information on such a circumstance? I’m guessing the only money he would have a chance at would be from a self insured policy if he was cut and sat out a year in rehab…and then get a bottom line 1 year contract the following year to prove he is the same player…there should be no wonder why he would be concerned…

    I think that any player under a franchise tag should be insured at the expense of the team if the player plays into the postseason…

    This is one of the reasons why a player on a playoff caliber team wants a long term deal with guaranteed money…so if they find themselves playing in the postseason and suffer a major injury, they have security.

    It’s a slippery slope as you can say why shouldn’t all players get that protection. I think all of them should in some fashion…I think there needs to be some insurance fund to protect players who are on their last year contract who are playing in post season games.

    Just look at Ryan Shazier…they picked up his 5th year option in Apr 2017…so he gets 8 million next year even if he is not on the roster…imagine if it was his 5th year playing on the option and he has this injury…imagine it was his 6th year playing on a franchise tag because they didn’t want to pay a long term deal (that 5th year option really sets up the franchise tag for first rounders that are legit, but the team has an overall strength at that position) and the injury happened in the postseason…wow…this guy can really get screwed…yea it’s a business, but I think there needs to be some insurance when it comes to final year contract players that get career ending injuries in the postseason, as the risk of injury does not equate.

  18. “Mr. Bell. Lemme ask you a question about your future. Try not to think about next year while answering though.”

    Ridiculous.

  19. Why is football the only sport where “talking” is a distraction? NFL reporters are the worse….they ask a question asking a guy to speak honestly and when he does…..BAM!…it’s a ‘gotcha’ moment and everyone (the reporters) have something to talk about….lame reporting….

  20. This is pretty misleading. Not a Steelers fan, but Leveon did not create the distraction. He answered a question honestly. People want athletes to be honest, and then when they are, everyone asks them to be politically correct and say the same old team-first nonsense.

  21. Man, those Steelers just love to look ahead…next game, next year. Here’s a thought. How about focusing on the Jags game? You can always say “next question” if you don’t want to fall into that trap.

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