Will hardball tactics backfire with Le’Veon Bell?

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The Steelers are getting upset.

Two weeks in to training camp, running back Le'Veon Bell has chosen to exercise his right not to show up. And, as Josh Alper pointed out earlier in the day, G.M. Kevin Colbert has publicly called Bell out for not accepting the $12.1 million franchise tender and showing up for preseason preparations.

It’s out of character for the normally soft-spoken Colbert to talk so tough, but the gesture is a reflection of the frustration that naturally flows when a franchise accustomed to getting its way when it comes to player relations suddenly doesn’t.

Ultimately, Bell is doing what he has the right to do under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steelers had the right under the CBA to apply the franchise tag to Bell, and they did. Bell then acquired the right to not sign it and to skip the offseason program, training camp, and all of the preseason. So far, he has.

Like various other franchise-tagged players before him, Bell has chosen to stay away. If he wants, Bell can stay away until only a few days before the start of the regular season, at which time he can show up, sign the tender, and still get the full $12.1 million.

If the Steelers don’t like that he isn’t there, they have options that would be far more productive than publicly criticizing Bell. Although it’s too late to do a long-term deal, the Steelers can sweeten the terms of the one-year offer, with more salary or a signing bonus or incentives or anything. They also can promise not to tag him again next year as an inducement to get him to show up.

Or, if they want, the Steelers can rescind the franchise tender and make Bell a free agent.

However it plays out, it’s unusual that the Steelers are expressing confusion and impatience regarding a situation that the franchise created by applying the franchise tag to Bell. The Steelers have rights, the player has rights, and complaining about the player exercising those rights likely won’t get him to blink.

If anything, it may cause Bell to harden his position.

24 responses to “Will hardball tactics backfire with Le’Veon Bell?

  1. BELL you need to hang in there. Don’t blink it’s what they want.They use you all over,RB,WR,KR,you name it.
    Stay strong….

  2. And if Bell had been a poster boy model citizen all this time, I’d agree about not taking a hard line stance. But Bell has been anything but reliable in his first years in Pittsburgh. He has taken himself out of action with multiple suspensions and has been hurt.

    While there is no denying his talent, he is just a RB and not a guarantee to succeed in the future.

  3. Le’Veon better be on top of his game this season since this will be his last year in Pittsbugh.

  4. These things always seem to happen just before a player falls apart. Can’t recall a single holdout ever being worth the money spent. They either get hurt, decline in skill or just stop trying. Mark my words, $12 mil will be hard to justify in retrospect at the end of this season.

  5. Be happy playing football for your 12m

    Enjoy it while it lasts

    You will soon realize your skill set only affords you the opportunities that employment at a car wash provides

  6. He is worth being paid as the top back in the NFL but…he is a risk ( legal & injury) but if he keeps playing hardball he might end up in Cleveland. He is a great receiver and runner..but wantinf both salaries isnt happening. Pittsburg is his best fit. But make no mistake. Its AB’s team !!

  7. Bell is an awesome RB. But he will not be as good on the other NFL TEAMS. IF HE LANDED WITH THE patsies he’d be good. Or maybe with like tbe giants.

  8. The club has stuck by him through suspensions & injury. Their confusion is understandable. For Bell, there’s too much history w players holding out, coming in late, and then tearing up a knee or something. He’s proven his point, has been offered the highest RB salary in the league (by quite a bit), & his teammates (many of whom will make far less) are out there working their tails off. Don’t risk injury Bell because that’s risking future money as well as contribution to the ultimate goal.

  9. Bell should hang tough. Assigning him the franchise tag, the team now has a short term investment in him and is treating him that way. Teams should stop franchise tagging players. It’s too risky and leads to bad relations, especially whey teams use it and them blame the player for exercising his own rights.

  10. This will be his last year in Pittsburgh. It will likely be a regression from past seasons and at least 1 injury.

  11. Trade him to the Redskins at the end of the season for Kirk Cousins. Ben can then retire and we have a QB that can throw the ball. Bell is a great player but thinking you should be paid as a top flight RB and a top flight WR combined is ludicrous.

  12. He’s an idiot for not taking the 12 Mil now. If he gets hurt outside he gets nothing.
    The squealers should rescind the offer.
    After he quit during last years AFC champion game I was done with this clown.

  13. Wow. Heaven forbid the Steelers say anything about this at all. Once a team tags a player it should be obvious their right to mention it is revoked. Only players and agents are allowed to play the PR game in this situation..

  14. Here is the thing, Bell is only $12 million dollar player for the Steelers. No other team is going to give him that money. Don’t get me wrong he’d get a huge deal from someone but nothing in the range of the deal offered last month. $42 over the 1st 3 years. And, the Freeman deal should be setting the market. Maybe Bell gets a little more but not in the $15 million range. No running back is worth it.

  15. Bell was offered 12 million annually for 5 years. I dont feel bad for him one bit. He should probably get a new agent. Guessing his agent is the same as branden alberts

  16. The talk about this is all PR. The Steelers don’t care if he misses a few weeks of camp. He only needs to be back for the week before the last preseason game, if that. The offense hasn’t changed and he is keeping in shape. 2 weeks to get his timing down and he is good to go. He knows it and so do the Steelers.

  17. sportsfan69 says:
    August 10, 2017 at 5:59 am
    Do you blame Bell? I would do the same thing. The Steelers organization is famous for not paying it’s players.
    Yet every year the Steelers have some of the smallest leftover cap space of all the teams in the NFL. Get your facts straight. The Steelers pay their players. They just don’t over pay as often as the players would like them too.

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