Artificial deadline passes for Steelers, Le’Veon Bell

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Last month, running back Le'Veon Bell admitted that he and the Steelers had designated February 20 as the deadline for doing a long-term deal. February 20 only has a few hours remaining in it, and there’s no sign that a contract will be finalized.

That lack of a deal meshes with the sense that emerged last year regarding the absence of talks between Bell and the Steelers, as the deadline approached.

It nevertheless was an artificial deadline, undoubtedly selected by the team in order to get Bell signed well before having to choose between tagging him again or letting him head toward the open market. As previously explained, Bell should resist any effort to sign him before he knows whether he will or won’t be tagged, because the context for negotiations can’t be fully formulated without knowing whether the tag will be used.

If tagged, Bell will be entitled to a one-year salary of $14.5 million — and he won’t be required to show up before Labor Day, which he chose to do a year ago (to the team’s chagrin). The question then becomes what will he trade on a long-term deal for the $14.5 million that he’ll make this year, knowing that in 2019 he’ll definitely end up on the open market, with more than $26.6 million earned for two NFL seasons?

If not tagged, the Steelers then will have to compete with anyone else who may want to try to lure Bell to town, and there’s a good chance someone else will offer more (maybe significantly more) than the Steelers.

It’s no surprise, then, that reports already are surfacing that the Steelers will tag Bell, absent a long-term deal that comes after the supposed deadline. The prospect of one more year with Bell at $14.5 million apparently is more attractive than no more years with Bell.

Then, after he’s tagged, the question will become whether the two sides can get a deal done before the real deadline of July 16.

For more on Bell, the franchise tag, and plenty of other topics, check out the latest PFT PM podcast.

34 responses to “Artificial deadline passes for Steelers, Le’Veon Bell

  1. No way is he worth over 14 mill for one year.
    He was run into the ground last year, most carries ever, most receptions ever.
    And almost a full yard per carry less than the previous two years.
    He’s gone.

  2. What’s ridiculous is if they tag him and he signs it he’ll still complain about being tagged, laughing on the way to the bank with his $14.5M.

    I honestly can’t see them reaching any agreement with him. He probably wants more than $14.5M per year. No team with any brain cells is going to do that. Right or wrong, that kind of money is generally only given to elite, franchise QBs. He’s probably also going to want a long-term deal with that kind of money, which the Steelers rarely do except for a select few players. Given his history of injury (and the suspension) can you really risk giving him that much money? I don’t envy the Steelers’ decision on this guy but I think if he wants to use the tag as a starting point in his contract they will not sign him. I doubt if they even tag him.

    All that said, I’m sure he will find some team to give him a truckload of money.

  3. I’m a bit confused on the tender offers but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what the Steelers do with Bell. The tender offer would be ~$8M (the average top RB salary the last five years). Bell won’t like that so if they do that it probably means the Steelers are resigned to letting him go instead of meeting his demands. They would also get a draft pick in return. The question then becomes is any team going to be willing to meet his demands and surrender a pick for the privilege of spending all that money.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  4. What I don’t understand is how Davante Adams gets $14.5 a year and nobody blinks, but Bell, who touches the ball probably 5X as much as Adams, would be overpaid to make the same amount.

  5. If they tag him……

    He will get a mystery Hamstring injury……lay out for 4 games and then finish the season on IR and be fresh for the next season and a huge pay day.

    Its a business.

  6. No running back in this era is worth 14+ a year. It’s just not how the game is played. Albeit he is a different back as far as running and receiving. But, still.

  7. The Steelers should do all they can to sign this guy long term. Give him whatever he wants. He will be the cornerstone of their offense for year to come. Who needs defense when you can score 40 points a game.

    Thank You.

    Die hard Ravens fan

  8. NinersFan1973 says:

    What I don’t understand is how Davante Adams gets $14.5 a year and nobody blinks, but Bell, who touches the ball probably 5X as much as Adams, would be overpaid to make the same amount.

    Well, I’m not sure Adams is worth that much given his production. But maybe this is why Bell mentioned he should be paid like a #1 WR and #1 RB. He does have a point. I could see Bell getting a contract similar to Adams now that you mention it. The only problem is the NFL now devalues RBs. Bell is more like a Roger Craig in that he’s a good WR and a good RB.

    I checked and seven WRs make $14M or more. Only four (Adams, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown) make more than $14.5M. The only question is going to be can the Steelers afford him and still address the defense which has a lot of holes to fill.

  9. NinnersFan is absolutely right. If you were wise you would use that money on Bell and get/draft young guys or prove it guys. Worked out for the Vikings, Eagles, and Pats (at least by WRs).

    With that said I wouldn’t give him that money, that argument is put into a vacuum. Give it to offensive lineman instead. The best offensive lines had traditionally be in big time games at the end of the year. Just ask Wilson how much better life was with the old unit he had.

  10. As somebody who has done a lot of negotiating, I have seen many occasions in which the next person to talk loses. This smells like one of those cases. Both GM’s and agents play the game.

    If the team calls him, he knows they want him. If he calls them, they know he’s anxious.

    Nobody wants to be in a position of weakness, so they hide in the weeds until the last minute, just in case the other side caves.

  11. charliecharger says:
    February 20, 2018 at 6:56 pm
    The Steelers will sign Bell and all will be good in Pittsburgh.

    ————

    Lots of things won’t be good…

    Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo

  12. NinersFan1973 says:
    February 20, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    What I don’t understand is how Davante Adams gets $14.5 a year and nobody blinks, but Bell, who touches the ball probably 5X as much as Adams, would be overpaid to make the same amount.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Let me help you understand… Adams is grossly overpaid…and overpaying WRs is a good way to not win Superbowls…

  13. Sorry, but his baggage and history doesn’t warrant exemplary treatment, despite his unique skill set. Professionals like Decastro, Heyward, Miller, etc. command respect and special treatment.

  14. I would transition tag him let him shop for highest deal decide if I want to match or take the draft picks. Use the savings on new FS and milb. In a perfect world Oakland or Cleveland sign him and we get 5th or 10th overall lick

  15. “there’s a good chance someone else will offer more (maybe significantly more) than the Steelers.”

    Are you nuts? What team is going to pay a RB more than 14.5 a year when no team currently pays that much for RBs? And if they do its not going to be healthy to their cap.

  16. He should play on the tag as running style doesn’t seem to a lot inherent injury risk; the guy almost walks to line and picks a spot.mix that in with a few pulled muscles for missing a game or two.

  17. I am for NFL players getting paid but I believe it will be idiotic for the Steelers to pay Bell over 12 Million a Year. Not because he is not worth it but because you can’t pay all your players. Giving him the salary he wants will put the Steelers in a bigger cap hell than they are currently in.

    Let Bell walk and draft few players or bring in free agents to take over aspect of his role and spend way less than 12 million.

  18. nhpats says:
    February 20, 2018 at 7:05 pm
    charliecharger says:
    February 20, 2018 at 6:56 pm
    The Steelers will sign Bell and all will be good in Pittsburgh.

    ————

    Lots of things won’t be good…

    Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo

    ——————-
    Why does their record against the Patriots matter any more? They lost to the Jaguars, the Patriots had nothing to do with it.

  19. I mean no doubt Bell is a talent. Steelers need him for there offense to be the juggernaut it is. You tag him and try to get a deal done before July 16th. If you can’t and he doesn’t get hurt or we don’t see a huge decline in production then Bell is most likely getting a bigger offer from a different team next year, In the NFL where nothing seems to be final you at least know you have the best RB1 in the business for the 2018 season.

  20. nhpats says:
    February 20, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Lots of things won’t be good…

    Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo

    ********************************************************************************

    Sad that the Steelers are so in your head that you have nothing better to do than troll Steeler articles all day.

  21. Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    Didn’t look like that until the Jesse James call. The Steelers can definitely beat the patriots and if you don’t think so you need to take of the rose colored glasses.

  22. He is the best RB in the league. But he is not worth 50% more than almost every other RB. A lot of his catches are short dumpoffs. He hasnt been able to get separation in red zone plays like a true WR. He also gets tackled from behind a lot limiting long runs which means when he runs a safety can err on the side of shortening the zone. his hesitation is great, but as you saw in the playoff game, a couple of 3rd downs which led to futile 4th and shorts, he could have gotten the first down if he just bore down and got it instead of doing his patented hesitation. Steelers need to spend their money on defense and draft a RB as they have shown they are better at drafting on offense than defense.

  23. steelcurtainn says:
    February 20, 2018 at 8:13 pm
    Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    Didn’t look like that until the Jesse James call. The Steelers can definitely beat the patriots and if you don’t think so you need to take of the rose colored glasses.
    ———————
    Uh, the Steelers were eliminated by the Jaguars. The Patriots had nothing to do with it. I cant believe how even now they still don’t realize that.

  24. Didn’t look like that until the Jesse James call. The Steelers can definitely beat the patriots and if you don’t think so you need to take of the rose colored glasses.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    What does a correct call in a tight game have to do with anything? Steelers had two more opportunities to get into the end zone and failed…..miserably. Was it the Jesse James’ call that made the Steelers get smoked at home vs the Jags?

  25. Steelers don’t need Bell. The fans are perfectly happy with rehashing Butterfingers James’s historic drop. Diverts their attention away from the fact that the Patriots and Jaguars now own them.

  26. blessedunliketherest says:
    February 21, 2018 at 8:47 am
    Didn’t look like that until the Jesse James call. The Steelers can definitely beat the patriots and if you don’t think so you need to take of the rose colored glasses.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    What does a correct call in a tight game have to do with anything? Steelers had two more opportunities to get into the end zone and failed…..miserably. Was it the Jesse James’ call that made the Steelers get smoked at home vs the Jags?

    ——————
    I would even rephrase that to be “a correct call in a tight game that not only wasnt the end of that game, but also was during the regular season several weeks before the Steelers got eliminated in a home game against a completely different opponent.” (And by the way…one that themselves could not beat the Patriots when that time came)

    The Steelers had no prayer at a championship. They were a low to mid level playoff team at best. As evidenced by how they finished in exactly that position.

  27. Why does their record against the Patriots matter any more? They lost to the Jaguars, the Patriots had nothing to do with it.

    When someone is obsessed with the Steelers like this troll they very seldom make any sense. This troll wears his stupid badge with pride.

    Steelers will sign Bell, but the money wont be what he wants.

  28. steelcurtainn says:
    February 20, 2018 at 8:13 pm
    Their coach….their defense….their record against the Patriots…. in other words it will be the status quo
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    Didn’t look like that until the Jesse James call. The Steelers can definitely beat the patriots and if you don’t think so you need to take of the rose colored glasses.

    —————

    Instead of planning on how to score if the James call was overturned, Mike Tomlin was watching the skycam with the rest of the fans. As long as Mike is the Steelers’ head coach, they aren’t going anywhere. But as someone else pointed out, now they don’t just need to figure out how to beat the Patriots, they need to find a way to beat the Jaguars

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