Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell isn’t willing to accept the team’s offer on a long-term deal. But he has accepted this truth: Bell hopes to spend his entire career in the city he now calls home.
“Pittsburgh,” Bell said via Twitter on Monday night, “the city that took in a 21-year old kid from small-town Ohio, the city I battled thru adversity in, the city that I became a man in. I love everything about being a Pittsburgh Steeler, and I want nothing more than to finish the rest of my career in Pitt!”
Some would say that, if Bell feels this way, he should accept the best long-term offer that the team has made. But the Steelers surely aren’t offering a lifetime contract for Bell. Indeed, the Steelers typically offer no fully-guaranteed payments beyond the first year of a long-term contract. Although a large signing bonus could make it difficult to dump Bell after only one year, the non-guaranteed back end of a multi-year contract gives Bell no real security.
If Bell loses a step or misses too many games due to injury, the Steelers will make a business decision reflecting the best interests of the franchise. So why shouldn’t he make a business decision reflecting his own best interests now?
There’s a big difference between Bell wanting to be in Pittsburgh and not wanting to do a deal that doesn’t properly compensate him, especially since he currently can make $14.5 million for 2018 and then undoubtedly become a free agent in 2019, since Bell will be eligible for the quarterback franchise tender in 2019, and the Steelers surely won’t pay him more than $24 million for another year after the current one.