Le’Veon Bell’s knee must be fine.
That’s the only explanation for Bell’s decision to address his contractual expectations, which he previously said he wouldn’t address until “my knee’s good.”
But Bell didn’t make his requirements known in an interview or a blog post or negotiations with the team or a leak to the media or any of the other traditional avenues for making his demands known. Instead, Bell slipped his minimum into the lyrics of a rap song.
Bell debuted on Twitter a tune called Focus. The folks at FOXSports.com heard this telling line in it: “I’m at the top and if not I’m the closest, I’ma need 15 a year and they know this.”
He may need “15 a year,” but it won’t be easy for Bell to get it. He’s currently eligible for a new contract, and his rookie deal expires after the coming season. Absent a long-term deal, he’ll hit the open market or receive the franchise tag in Pittsburgh before March 2017.
For running backs, the tag carried a value of $11.789 million in 2016. Bell could perhaps parlay that into a long-term deal with enough back-end fluff to push the overall value to $15 million per year, but the front end wouldn’t reach that level.
Whatever level Bell reaches, he’ll need to be healthy and perform like he did in 2014 (when he rushed for 1,361 yards and added 854 receiving) in order to get the most money from the Steelers or someone else.