Former Steelers cornerback and current NFL Network analyst Ike Taylor knows Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell well. And Ike seems to know Bell well enough to know what he is thinking about doing when training camp opens for the Steelers.
Appearing Wednesday night on Total Access, Taylor said there’s a “strong possibility” Bell will hold out.
Taylor added that Bell wants to be paid like a No. 1 running back and a No. 2 receiver combined, given that Bell finished second on the team last year in receptions and receiving yards. Taylor also seemed to suggest what it would have taken to get a deal done; by saying that the team should offer Bell $3 million more per year and given that the team’s last offer reportedly averaged $12 million annually, it looks like Bell wants exactly what he suggested he wanted in a rap song last summer: $15 million per year.
Although the Steelers and Bell currently can’t sign a long-term deal until after the regular season ends, the Steelers can offer Bell more than his current $12.1 million franchise tender on a one-year deal. So they could still, if they want, increase the tender to $15 million — and Bell has every right to stay away until they do.
Indeed, he can stay away until only days before the start of the regular season, and still get his $12.1 million. The only question is whether the Steelers would become exasperated and decide to assign the duties of No. 1 running back (and No. 2 receiver) to someone else.