Le’Veon Bell may be ready to follow in Kirk Cousins’ footsteps

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Le'Veon Bell‘s comment on Thursday that he feels like Pittsburgh treats him as a villain suggests that he might not be in Pittsburgh much longer. And if he’s approaching this season with an eye toward leaving Pittsburgh a year from now, he has a role model he knows well: Kirk Cousins.

Bell and Cousins were teammates at Michigan State, and Bell is now in the position Cousins was in a year ago: Franchised for the second year in a row, and seemingly not on the same page as his team about a long-term contract extension.

It could make sense, then, for Bell to follow in Cousins’ footsteps, sign the franchise tender this year, and hit unrestricted free agency next year. Like Cousins, Bell would benefit from the NFL rule that makes a third franchise tag so expensive as to be almost impossible: Washington was never going to put the franchise tag on Cousins this year, and Bell is even less likely to get the franchise tag next year. If Bell plays out this season in Pittsburgh on the one-year franchise salary of $14.56 million, he’ll become a true unrestricted free agent next year.

The big risk, of course, is that Bell could suffer a serious injury during the 2018 season. If he blows out his knee this year, the big payday he wants next year may not materialize.

But if Bell doesn’t feel wanted in Pittsburgh and doesn’t think the Steelers are willing to pay him the kind of money he deserves on a long-term deal, the best way to find out what he’s worth on the open market is to do exactly what Cousins did: Play out his rookie contract, sign the franchise tender twice, and then hit free agency. Bell wouldn’t get the kind of contract Cousins got because no running back is going to get a quarterback contract in today’s NFL. But Bell could re-set the market for running backs by hitting the market in a year.

60 responses to “Le’Veon Bell may be ready to follow in Kirk Cousins’ footsteps

  1. Maybe. But I think it’d be foolish of a team to give him a huge contract. We all know the shelf life of running backs. I wouldnt break the bank on a running back

  2. Too much to pay a RB these days. He’s dynamic, but at the position that gets the most wear and tear, yu can get 3 functional guys (3-6 round rookie who is good at one or two things, and two veterans) for 10-11 mill. Only way to really pay him and keep hom is if a team has a ton of cap space for a year or two and gives him a front loaded deal because there aren’t any other quality free agents to pay.

  3. What does Bell expect? The average salary in Pittsburgh, PA is $53,334. Bell, on the tag is slated to make $14,560,000, basically 273 times the median salary in Pittsburgh. Forgive everyone who is disgusted with him whining about his contract and money.

    He will make more money in one year then most people will make in their lifetime, so no one wants to hear his whining. Especially when the Steelers offered to make him the highest paid RB in the game.

  4. .
    If Bell feels he’s being treated like a villain then it’s his own fault. The City of Pittsburgh always overrates and overinflates its own players. This has been true for decades. It’s often resulted in the Steelers hanging on to fan favorites a bit too long.
    .

  5. Good luck getting MORE THAN TWICE what the next highest RB’s get paid. He’s the best back in the league, and I wouldn’t even hate $10M (beating the next highest contracts by 25%), but $17M is ridiculous.

  6. Probably, one of the two or three best all around RB’s in NFL history. Still not worth the money he wants. Too much mouth and self-centeredness, and don’t forget the risk of another NFL penalty.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with coachjl1978. The cba already makes the team pay him for his position. That’s the fair way. My position at work dictates my wage as well.

  8. Only difference is, Cousins found himself in a MUCH bether situation to compete for Lombardis than he had prior to leaving in FA.

    Only a team that has veraged a 6-10 record for the past decade has the cap space and accompanying front office incompetence to sign Juice to the deal he seeks.

    So have fun in a Jets, Bucs, Dolphins, or Redskins uni…and keep those knees safe fam! I’ll be rooting solely for the logo on one side of his helmet this year…

    Next man up!

  9. Bell and Cousins took an economics class together called Greedy 101: How to take so much of an organizations money that you make it impossible to succeed.

  10. Man this guy is an amazing talent, would hate to see it not work out because of money but it is trending in that direction.

  11. The average running back career in the NFL is something like 2 seasons. He could get hurt at any time, and RB is one of the most physically demanding positions in the league. I hope he gets every dollar he can. If I was in his position I would do the same. the rabid fans aren’t going to be changing his bedpan if he ends up with early dementia because of head injuries. Money will be there to take care of him though.

    Oh and he is far and away the best player at his position, by a lot. Just like AP was far and away the best RB in the league when he signed a deal for $4 mill a year more than the next guy at his position.

  12. He’s in a lose lose situation.
    Steelers will run him ragged and get everything out of him.
    Which in turn means no team will give a huge multi year contract to a RB with with lots of miles in the legs.

    If he refuses to take the ball, he’ll be painted as a selfish malcontent and again, nobody is giving a huge multi contract to a selfish malcontent at the RB position.

    I don’t blame him in wanting as much financial security as possible.. but he needs to be realistic in what he truly can get.

  13. He’ll have more time to make his silly raps when he’s holding out for that contract.

  14. Yeah, great player no doubt but a knee injury could sideline him for a year…just like the next time he smokes, being a repeat offender he gets sat down for a year. That additional reason is why everyone is gun shy about signing him long-term. He goes out and celebrates and boom, done for the year.

  15. Steelers are playing this so smart. The franchise tag is a lot especially for the second year but it’s better than handing out a huge contract for a RB that already has had a ton of carries the last few seasons. No need to commit long term when they don’t know how many great years he has left.

  16. Also $17 million for a guy that skips OTA’s, has been in trouble before, and from my vantage point I think he takes plays off. Maybe it is just me, I love the patience going threw the hole, that is fine. But it seems when the ball isn’t going his way, his routes and everything just seems lacadasical. Probably just me and my Canadian water…

  17. Steelers upped their generous 2017 (5yr $42M) offer which is even better when you take account they prob won’t have him for a quarter of those games as his next suspension will be a lot longer.

  18. My Spartan dogs are absolutely crushing the NFL and getting paid the maximum amount that they can for going out and putting their bodies on the line day in and day out. For some reason this makes jealous people mad but I’m sure you’d all be willing to work for way less that you can get at your jobs right? Right

  19. Bell has every right to try to maximize his income, but he can’t be upset when Average Joe’s hate him for all of the whining. Handle your business privately. Those of us who have to battle our employers for an extra $.75 per hour don’t want to hear you whining anymore.

  20. If every NFL player got significantly injured this season and their career ended, not many, (except QB) would end up pocketing the amount of money he will make under this tag.

  21. It seems as though Bell and Cousins both must have taken ‘How To Break The Bank At The Expense Of Your Team 101’ at Michigan State?

  22. Good running backs are a dime a dozen. The Steelers can find another one just as good if not better than him at a cheaper price. Bell isn’t that special he doesn’t have a third gear once he get beyond the line of scrimmage like Gurley and Barkley does.

  23. No thanks, we already have a stud RB in Dalvin Cook. No need to follow Cousin’s footsteps to Minnesota.

  24. go work 50 hours a week flipping burgers and then see how you like what you are making.pro sports are pricing themselves out of range for families to attend. they priced me out of the stadium 5 years back. i also just dropped direct tv and the overpriced sunday ticket.

  25. He seems content on doing that. He already said he’s not showing up until he has to, which means he won’t be at training camp. I can only hope a RB really shows up this year and gives the Steelers a reason to even consider rescinding the tag.

  26. If Lev-Ego had used the same play book as KC he’d might get the pay day he wants.
    KC NEVER publically bitched about the tag, being underpaid, alienated fans, got suspended, or painted himself as a victim. He immediately signed the tag, thanked everyone and went on about his business.
    Granted, KC isn’t the QB equivalent of Lev’Ego as an RB, but he a HOF attitude.

  27. “My Spartan dogs are absolutely crushing the NFL and getting paid the maximum amount that they can for going out and putting their bodies on the line day in and day out. For some reason this makes jealous people mad but I’m sure you’d all be willing to work for way less that you can get at your jobs right? Right”

    Welcome to ProFootballTalk comment section LeVeon, uh I mean “SpartanLegend” 🙄

  28. reaganyears says:
    March 30, 2018 at 9:35 am
    If Lev-Ego had used the same play book as KC he’d might get the pay day he wants.
    KC NEVER publically bitched about the tag, being underpaid, alienated fans, got suspended, or painted himself as a victim. He immediately signed the tag, thanked everyone and went on about his business.
    Granted, KC isn’t the QB equivalent of Lev’Ego as an RB, but he a HOF attitude.
    ___________
    I guess not!!! KC hasn’t accomplished anything or put his body on the line in the way that Bell has. Bell is a beast at HIS Position. Cousins is taking advantage of leverage ONLY and dumb teams. Bell has a much shorter shelf life than a QB and he knows they kick RB’s out of the league at a stupid 30 years old. I mean swimmers, runners, all of them still can perform at top level at age 30+. Running backs can do it, they just aren’t given the chance with the new rookie deals. One needs a great team to make him good, the other MAKES a team great!!! Huge difference.

    And you would have a HOF attitude too when you are getting overpaid on the tag!! Why don’t people use their brains even a little bit today?

  29. Running backs unfortunately have a short shelf life because they take a beating. Bell is probably the best RB, but if you look at past SB winners they find guys a lot cheaper. The exception was Seattle with Lynch, but they were a defense dominated team which Pittsburgh is not.

    I don’t blame Bell, but playing out the franchise tag and thinking he’ll get a better deal a year from now is risky. I’d take security and a lower contract.

  30. In paying Bell the Steelers are shorting their defense. As such they can’t contend for a Super Bowl. A team needs balance and Pittsburgh doesn’t have it.

  31. Someone will give him 3 years $50 million with 50% guaranteed. The Steelers offer currently is only $8 million off from that and a team with cap space can pay that. He is hoping that it’s a contender.

  32. The franchise tag is a joke and needs to go. Why should a team be compensated 2 first round draft picks if a player plays out his contract and decides not to sign another one with them?

    Not only that but the tag causes artificial inflation and suppression of player value. Is Bell really worth about $15 million a season? The free agent market for running backs seems to say no but the franchise tag says he is. Is Aaron Rodgers really worth $21 million per season? Well the free agent contract signed by Cousins, who is a good QB but not on Rodgers, level suggest he’s worth a lot more than that.

  33. Funny, I posted this yesterday in a different forum:

    Now he wants $17M per year, last year it was $15M per year, which the Steelers offered but he denied it, even though his agent wanted to take it. This guy has proven one thing over the last couple years…..he doesn’t want to play in Pittsburgh and is taking the Kirk Cousins approach.. If he does get anywhere near the money he wants from someone next year, it will be from a team with a ton of cap space which means that team will not be very good, which means he won’t put up anywhere near the numbers he put up in Pittsburgh, which means that he won’t be that “elite” level RB anymore…..good luck in NY with the Jets next year, hope the cost of living doesn’t eat too much into your money you’re gonna get.

    Steelers need to draft a RB in the first 3 rounds this year and pair that guy with Conner and move on, it’s been real, it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun Le’Veon, two straight years of whining about money, 3 season ending injuries in 5 years and two drug related suspensions……..and you want QB money?

  34. .
    Currently the teams with the most available cap space in 2019 are the Jets (102m) and Rams (97m).
    .

  35. Steelers will put this to bed when we take Derrius Guice with the 28th pick in the draft. Bell will get shipped out to the Jets, 49ers or some other bottom feeder that agrees to his ridiculous demands.

  36. 7timechamp says:

    March 30, 2018 at 10:33 am

    He’s talented! Extremely greedy but talented!

    Nearly every player in the league is (rightfully) trying to maximize their compensation. What makes Bell greedy? Because he is best at his position and an excellent receiver? If it doesn’t fit into Steelers long-term plans, but get out of here with this argument. Nothing greedy about it.

  37. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like Bell is getting bad advice from someone. Putting all emotional, misleading, sanctimonious arguments aside (the median salary in Pittsburgh is entirely irrelevant – the NFL is an entirely different economy and players get paid according to that, nothing else) it sounds like he’s gotten a couple of great offers from the team. He should take the latest and be happy.

    Why? Not because of some BS about him being “greedy” or “self centered” (notice how the teams are entirely “self centered” – because it’s a business), but because it makes the most sense for him financially in the long-term.

    As others have said, the Steelers are going to use him up this season, as much as they can. Whoever is whispering in Bell’s ear, telling him to play hardball on this contract, needs to check themselves and take Bell’s long-term interests into account. Sign the deal and be done with it.

  38. But if Bell doesn’t feel wanted in Pittsburgh and doesn’t think the Steelers are willing to pay him the kind of money he deserves on a long-term deal

    That should read “the kind of money he thinks he deserves on a long-term deal. Keep in mind this is the same guy who said he deserves the sum of a #1 RB and a #1 WR. In other words, anything short of $20M+ per year and he’s going to be unhappy. Taking into consideration this will be his sixth year in the league and his injury history I’ll be surprised if there are going to be many teams willing to come anywhere close to meeting his demands. Additionally, the longest the deal would be is probably three years.

    Maybe Bell would have been better off signing a realistic long-term deal with the Steelers instead of demanding QB money. Still, it’s hard to feel sorry for someone complaining about “only” making $14.56M this year.

  39. jtn9981 says:
    March 30, 2018 at 10:50 am
    7timechamp says:

    March 30, 2018 at 10:33 am

    He’s talented! Extremely greedy but talented!

    Nearly every player in the league is (rightfully) trying to maximize their compensation. What makes Bell greedy? Because he is best at his position and an excellent receiver? If it doesn’t fit into Steelers long-term plans, but get out of here with this argument. Nothing greedy about it.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    When the Steelers gave him a head and shoulders offer way above any other running back’s in the league,one that his agent was very happy with and would have reset the market value for RB’s in the NFL he said no….twice. Along with two drug suspensions. He wants A.B. money. Well guess what! A.B. has zero drug suspensions and isn’t one joint away from a season long suspension. Bell=Greedy!

  40. Bell wants security. Steelers want him in camp. If they can’t get a long term deal worked out, they should agree to a one year deal with the same salary as the tag, but with a huge additional injury guarantee and the inability to tag him next year. Win-win.

  41. I don’t see how seeking the maximum market rate for your services, in an injury-prone profession with a short shelf-life, somehow equates with being a greedy troublemaker. The wage base for an All-Pro NFL RB simply can’t be compared to the wage of the average PA citizen.

  42. Perennial First Class organizations don’t franchise tag running backs…and what a coincidence Pittsburgh aren’t the perennial contenders they used to be…they’ve slowly declined under Tomlin…

  43. If RB is such a plug and play position why haven’t the Lions been able to find a rb who can run for a 100 yards in a game in 3 years?

  44. Angry people…you do realize the Steelers could just release Bell, right? Well they haven’t. Stop being angry. The team likes him enough and they have passively admitted that he’s worth AT LEAST $14.5M. The team has freely chosen to pay him $14.5M this year. Relax.

  45. stew48 says:
    March 30, 2018 at 8:33 am
    Probably, one of the two or three best all around RB’s in NFL history
    ———
    Not even in the top ten

  46. His self worth is not his real worth, trying to hold up the bank when running backs come to an end quickly.

  47. Unlike Cousins, who remained classy throughout, Bell shows he nothing but a major distraction for a team that is imploding before our eyes. The double beatdowns from Jacksonville show how ill equipped this team to able to evenh win a single playoff game. “Here we go” has already been replaced with “There they went” and “One and done.” Hahaha.

  48. We Viking fans don’t look at Cousins as being the savior of the franchise. We already had a VERY strong team last year… a top 4 team as a matter of fact. It’s just that another strong piece has been added at a crucial position… and being able to stabilize the position of QB with a player the caliber of Kirk Cousins makes an already elite team that much better. Like it or not… the Purple People Eaters of the 70’s are back… as is a QB with talents reminiscent of great Fran Tarkington. SKOL! SKOL!! SKOL!!! SKOL!!!! SKOL!!!!! SKOLSKOLSKOLSKOLSKOLSKOL!!!!!!!!!!!

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