Le’Veon Bell: Steelers have set February 20 deadline for doing long-term deal

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When Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell said that he and the Steelers already are closer now to a long-term deal than they were a year ago, it seemed that the Steelers had set an artificial deadline for getting a contract done, as they often do.

Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on Thursday that this is precisely what has happened. The deadline set by the team is February 20, and Bell said he’d like to get a deal done by then, too.

“That is definitely the goal,” Bell said.

Bell also said that negotiations can continue if they don’t hit their goal.

The date of February 20 wasn’t randomly selected; that’s when the window opens for applying the franchise tag. For Bell, the tag would result in a one-year guaranteed salary of $14.56 million, a 20-percent raise over his 2017 franchise tender of $12.1 million.

The move isn’t a surprise, because the Steelers often create artificial rules and deadlines when it comes to negotiations, and Steelers players almost always comply. Bell, frankly, should decline; the Steelers can huff and puff and leak unflattering details about Bell and otherwise whine about him taking a hard line, but Bell has the leverage. And he should use it.

Maybe Bell has decided to quit fighting. Maybe he has decided to go along in order to get along. His interests may be better served by recognizing that the Steelers will have hundreds of these negotiations over time. For Bell, this may be it.

Besides, what are they going to do if he declines their best offer before February 20? Not sign him at all? Not tag him? For now, the Steelers need Bell more than Bell needs the Steelers. The moment that equation flips, the Steelers will immediately commence squeezing Bell’s balls.

For now, Bell is the one with the power to squeeze. And squeeze he should.

The players take the physical risks. The players hold no equity. The players get only what they can get while they are playing at a level high enough to let them get it. And that’s exactly what Bell should do.

14 responses to “Le’Veon Bell: Steelers have set February 20 deadline for doing long-term deal

  1. The Steelers are already over the cap by 2 million, they will act like they gave a
    good faith effort and Bell wouldn’t sign. The truth is they cant afford it, which is
    why they tagged him this year.

  2. I think Bell is the best overall back in the league, but let’s not get all crazy talk about it.

    He isn’t perfect, for example he’s not very fast, never breaks long runs (all those touches but a long of 20 behind a very good line) and he averaged only 4 yards a carry this year. RB is still not as valued as it used to be. A healthy Steven Ridley and James Conner both looked pretty good, pretty cheap, averaged more per carry than Bell, and good backs are easier to find these days.

    The Steelers are going to have some cap issues anyways but they’ll be much worse with Bell and his eventual number. Historically speaking, Bell isn’t exactly super dependable either. The Steelers would also get a draft pick in compensation if they lose Bell, albeit probably just a 3rd. That Feb. 20th deadline can also serve as a trade deadline and someone somewhere will pay him what he wants – just hopefully in the NFC.

    So we’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t bet the family farm on Bell playing for Pittsburgh next year quite just yet.

    Go Steelers!

  3. They should let him walk. If he wants to go make his max value, let him go to Arizona, Chicago, or whoever. This isn’t a QB were taking about. Great running back. But the Steelers got by just fine with a 32 year old Deangelo Williams. Don’t break the bank.

  4. Most likely his agent made some calls (not tampering, ofc) and informed him that nobody else would pay him that much money.

  5. “…but Bell has the leverage. And he should use it.” He does? Another team would give him a minimum of $12 million per year? Who?

    This article is written as if two of this season’s best running backs weren’t rookies taken in the third round – not first, but third – of the draft, and, therefore, on dirt cheap contracts. Last season’s best running back was also a rookie that was paid far less than Bell’s demanding.

    So, sure, Bell’s more valuable to the Steelers than he is to anyone else, but that doesn’t mean they need to pay him eight figures per year. Contributing running backs are annually found all throughout the draft and in free agency, and Bell’s diva routine makes his price tag even harder to justify. He’s got leverage? Let him use it, and then see where he ends up.

  6. With the Steelers offensive line, I’d prefer to see they didn’t pay him 10+/yr and resign WR/Defensive players rather than breaking the bank on 1. Bell is great, but most of the top RB’s in the league would have equal or greater success behind this O-line, and they’re far cheaper!

  7. ORRR……MAYBE they’re close to a deal & nobody involved sees a need to have friction between the two sides. Even if they do tag him, they can still negotiate & get a deal done. See how it plays out.

  8. It’s fun watching the Steelers spend themselves into salary cap hell over a high risk player who’s already proven he can’t avoid injury, suspension, or overall lackluster performance when he gets to the playoffs.

  9. Why do you love the free market? The pay scales are rarely accurate. The highest paid are very rarely the best, and there’s not even the pretense that they are. The market rewards luck and timing far not that it rewards skill, value, and production.

  10. I’d like to see the Steelers cap numbers if they released Gay and Mitchell. Also, if Shazier is due $8.7 next yr & retires, I’d like to see how the league handles those numbers.

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