Steelers leak final offer to Le’Veon Bell, with incomplete details

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell were unable to work out a long-term deal before Monday’s deadline. Bell publicly groused about the team’s offer. So the team privately leaked some of the details.

But not enough of them.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the Steelers offered Bell a contract that carries an annual average of more than $12 million per year, with $30 million payable in the first two years and $42 million over three. While that’s better than nothing, it’s impossible to fully evaluate the quality of the deal without more.

Most importantly, how much was fully guaranteed at signing? With a $12.1 million in guaranteed salary for 2017 and the promise of a 20-percent raise for 2018 under the tag, Bell should have been looking for $26.62 million fully guaranteed over the first two years. The Steelers, however, typically don’t fully guarantee money beyond year one. Without knowing the full guarantee from the moment Bell inked the deal, there’s no way to know whether he should have taken it.

Also, what’s the cash flow in year one? By simply saying he’d make $30 million in the first two years, the Steelers adroitly glossed over the key question of whether Bell would make $12.1 million this year, $26.62 million, or something in between that. Absent that detail, there’s no way to know the quality of the deal.

Finally, what’s the term of the deal? Ian Rapoport of NFL Media chimes in that it would have been a five-year contract. This means that Bell would have been swapping one year at $12.1 million for one year at whatever the offer would have paid this year (we still don’t know) plus a team-held option for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

In leaking the information (which is a bit of a surprise), the Steelers want to seem reasonable — even if it makes Bell look greedy. Whatever the details of the offer were, Bell gets $12.1 million this year (if/when he signs the tender) and either $14.52 million next year or a shot at the open market. If the Steelers weren’t willing to give Bell any guarantees beyond 2017 and likewise not willing to pay him $26.62 million or close to it this year, he made the right decision.

30 responses to “Steelers leak final offer to Le’Veon Bell, with incomplete details

  1. The Steelers are usually pretty responsible with their money, they don’t need this guy and should just resign deangelo Williams. Bell= suspended, hurt, suspended, hurt. You’re going to pay a guy 42 mil over three seasons who you absolutely can’t rely on.

  2. What does he expect his market to be? I love bell, he is in my opinion the best RB in the league, however unless the guaranteed money was bad that’s a fair deal. The tag will go up for him after this year for the steelers but the tag as a whole will start to decline because the high paid RB are almost extinct. A good RB helps your team espically one this talented and complete, but he isn’t worth that deal let alone a better one.

  3. Kinda agree. Steelers willing for 2017 tag money. Then, if no injuries or other problems, my guess is they will be willing to pay him his worth. If injuries, or especially if other problems, he is history.

  4. Well, I’m glad he turned it down. The Steelers were grossly over paying! Not ANY RB in the league worth $14 mil/yr average.

  5. I agree we don’t know enough to evaluate the contract, but can we please stop insisting that the guaranteed money should be at least as much as two years of the franchise tag? The reason players sign longer-term contracts rather than go year to year is to give them security against injury. If Bell were to tear an ACL this year, he wouldn’t get a $14.52 million franchise tag next year. You give up a little in guaranteed money to gain the security of having the contract. It would be perfectly reasonable to offer something like $20 million guaranteed.

  6. nepatriot1 says:
    Jul 18, 2017 5:23 PM
    The Steelers are usually pretty responsible with their money, they don’t need this guy and should just resign deangelo Williams. Bell= suspended, hurt, suspended, hurt. You’re going to pay a guy 42 mil over three seasons who you absolutely can’t rely on.

    ——————————

    Williams is pretty old, but you’re right in that they should sign someone like him. When you look at his body of work in that Steelers offense, it makes you wonder just how critical is Bell? It’s not like he’s there for every game anyway. Maybe they would be better off signing a between-the-tackles bruiser and a smaller, pass-catching , third-down type back. Spend 4-5 mil for the pair and use the rest of that tag money towards some much-needed defensive players.

  7. You’re right that without full details it’s hard to put this into context, but a contract that pays out an average of $15million over the first two years, with an overall annual average of $12million is already high for a RB. Let alone one that is hurt as often as Bell is. Credit to him for sticking to his guns…I guess…but that’s a lot of money to be paying a guy who hasn’t been reliable (for a few reasons). IMO, at first glance, it seems like a really good offer.

  8. The Steelers leaking anything out beyond the standard ‘we value (insert name here) but couldn’t quite get a deal done in time but look forward to keeping (insert name here) a member of the family and will revisit this after the season’ type comment is message sending Leaking numbers without details risks rejoinder and ill will. The Steelers front office is too smart not to have considered that. It’s pretty clear they feel the cost of tagging a RB when applied to a player that has Bell’s talent but trouble staying on the field makes the risk all his. Pittsburgh’s thinking has to be going year to year with Bell is the opposite of the Skins with Cousins. When it comes to doing it with a higher risk but lower tag number it put’s the team in the driver’s seat not the player and they are right.

  9. Good, RB are available at a cheaper cost. Who ever heard of Bell before he ran behind that line? Or Antonio Brown for that matter. Great players will figure out a way to make the most money. One way or another, without smoking weed.

  10. I like Bell & I agree with him that RB’s are being shorted on their value in today’s intentional ‘pass-happy, fast-scoring, criminalize-the-defense, made for the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Youth’ approach. However, he’s not THAT good! Good, yes, but not that good. He needs to know the Steelers will succeed with or without him. In 2015, they were 8-4 without Bell and 3-1 last season. Over the last 2 years, they are 11-5 without Bell in the line up. In case you don’t see it, that a winning playoff eligible record. Bell is worth a good paycheck, but he’s not worth 30% more than the next highest paid RB, and that is what he turned down!

  11. @The Phantom Stranger,
    Don’t bother. He doesn’t get it and he doesn’t want to. He is either woefully incapable of looking at more than one side of any given issue or he is just trying to establish a player-friendly track record for the NFLPA job he will be trying to get next year

  12. You must also factor into the deal that Bell would get to play for a legit Super Bowl contender. Ben and Antonio could have both held out for more than they got but they left some on the table so they could sign other guys.

    It doesn’t make Bell necessarily a bad guy to want the most money possible, but he has to realize that part of making that happen might be playing for a bad team for the rest of his career.

    Details or not, it appears the steelers did make him a very large offer which was probably close to the max they could offer and still pay the rest of the talent.

  13. pburghballin says:
    Jul 18, 2017 5:56 PM

    You’re right that without full details it’s hard to put this into context, but a contract that pays out an average of $15million over the first two years, with an overall annual average of $12million is already high for a RB. Let alone one that is hurt as often as Bell is. Credit to him for sticking to his guns…I guess…but that’s a lot of money to be paying a guy who hasn’t been reliable (for a few reasons). IMO, at first glance, it seems like a really good offer.
    ————————————————

    That all sounds good enough, but the current state of contracts within the NFL means that it’s all about the guaranteed money you fail to mention.

  14. Hey Le’Veon, love to watch you play, my man. Thanks for keeping it real.
    I guess you weren’t kidding when you laid down $15 mil/per riff in that
    little jingle of yours. Yo yo, keep rappin’ that shizz bruh, I’m sure some
    team like the Browns be listening and feelin’ your pain. They gonna be there
    lining up to catch your fall.

    They know your real value Le’Veon. You’re not only a RB. but a reciever too
    AND a rapper- that’s like three things. That’s some dope entertainment.
    Bruh, maybe you can ask for $25 mil from them next year.

    What’s with this chump change they be reeferin’ to – $30 mil paid over
    the first two years ? Really?

    Don’t they know my man has needs. A real player needs his cash flow.
    Make that cash flow Le’Veon. Don’t let no one disrespect you like dat.
    Dam! those crazy Steelers been treating you like they don’t like you, bruh.
    It has me trippin’ big time.

    Colbert be ignoring the market rate and offering you only a 30% premium
    over the going rate for a top RB – what’s up wit dat crazy talk?
    Don’t they know you be revolutionalizing that position?

    I bet that sly cat Tomlin know you da cheese bruh, but he be keepin you
    from your money. Like clockwork, every start of the season, he been
    wanting to start D-Will ahead of you Haha – bruh, we know you better
    than that. Man, them Steelers must be boneheads.

  15. Doesn’t this guy get it???? He could be playing on a team that cheats it’s way to a win instead of a legit team.. never mind we’re talking about the stealers….. nothing to see here folks move along.

  16. He is the best back in the game. Should he accept top five average money or expect something above that because he is better than four others? Plus backs are already undervalued so he is getting hit on that too. The Steelers can’t beat the patriots without him.

  17. Tag him again next year, then let him walk. Tomlin rubs his starter into the ground, regardless of who is the backup. Bell will have a lot of mileage in next two years. If he stays available.

  18. Great RB, brings a lot of talent to the team. However, with that talent, he also brings a ton of liability – he’s injury prone, he has a habit of violating the league’s substance abuse policy. . . all in all, I think the Steelers’ have done the right thing . . . if he doesn’t sign, he doesn’t sign . . . there’s a willing RB waiting in the wings with more heart and grit in his baby finger than Bell has in his entire body . . .

  19. Bell better stay out of trouble because John Conner might take his job next year if he holds out and John plays wells

  20. id run him into the ground on that franchise tag and if he makes it through the year healthy i’d tag him and do it again the following year and then let him walk

    RBs aren’t worth the money, especially long term guaranteed money- get them while they’re cheap and young and beat them to death

  21. when teams leak contract offers with big numbers but don’t give the details, it’s a dishonest attempt at making fans blame the player and not the organization. Big numbers are always impressive but the devil is always in the details

  22. This negotiaton was doomed for failure. With the current top paid RB (Shady) at 8 mil per year, what is fair for the best RB in the league? Bell could be the best Steeler RB ever…but not if he eventually takes a mega deal with a pretender.

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