Without a long-term deal, will Le’Veon Bell boycott camp, again?

Getty Images

Last year, after the Steelers and running back Le'Veon Bell failed to strike a long-term deal before the mid-July deadline for doing so, Bell stayed away as long as possible. He showed up eventually on Labor Day, signed his franchise tender, and made the full $12.1 million.

This year, if the Steelers and Bell don’t do a long-term deal by Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET, many presume he’ll do the same. And while it’s useful for Bell to have the Steelers think it will happen that way (since it creates more of an incentive to sign him), there’s a case to be made for Bell showing up for training camp and the preseason.

If Monday’s deadline passes without Bell signing a long-term deal, Bell will have a clear path to the open market in March 2019, because the Steelers would have to apply the quarterback tender if he’s franchise-tagged a third time. So if that’s the post-July 16 scenario, Bell arguably would have an incentive to be as prepared as possible to have the best season he can, maximizing his value as he prepares for his better-late-than-never shot at unrestricted free agency.

Last year, Bell finished with 1,291 rushing yards and 655 receiving yards. But he struggled out of the gates, with 32 yards rushing in the season opener, an average of 3.2 yards per carry in the team’s first two games, and only one total touchdown through three weeks.

Bell finally got it going in Week Four, with 144 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns against the Ravens in Baltimore. If the slow start can be attributed in any way to Bell showing up six days before the first Sunday of the season, maybe Bell would have had an even bigger 2017.

The other side of this one, of course, is that 1,946 yards from scrimmage would be more than good enough to maximizing his earnings in March, and that showing up for camp and the preseason would serve only to present more opportunities to suffer the kind of injury that would keep him from cashing in.

Either way, the analysis changes once the possibility of a long-term deal evaporates. For now, Bell needs the Steelers to think he won’t show. After Monday, Bell would be wise to revisit that stance.

30 responses to “Without a long-term deal, will Le’Veon Bell boycott camp, again?

  1. .Injury risk in camp outweighs what he will gain in preparation. He’s been around long enough and won’t gain very much from training camp.

  2. Pay him. 3-years $51M 20M guaranteed ….. Done.

    I can see this guy ending up being the best RB in Steelers history and that is saying a lot. Its not a sure thing obviously, but c’mon you can’t tell me this guy isn’t the best RB in the NFL right now. He is that

  3. Steelers gotta decide what he’s worth to them cuz there are plenty of teams that’ll scoop him up the second he’s available. Most patient runner I’ve ever seen.

  4. Don’t forget he finished last season. Each of the prior few seasons, he missed the final game(s). Staying away is 100% the right move, even though it creates (minor) distraction thanks to the media.

  5. .
    The Steelers finished 20th in rushing last year behind the Jets, Cleveland and Green Bay. They could easily finish 20th again without Bell. The best move for the Steelers would have been to cut Bell (eliminating the distraction) and draft Sony Michel at #28 before the Patriots snagged him at #31. There’s a lot of similarities in their games.
    .

  6. no way he gets a long term contract with the guaranteed money he wants due to his age and numbers of touches already in his career (along with games missed due to injury and suspension). RB’s go down hill fast as they approach 30.

  7. Leveon is not considering his legacy in the NFL. If he signs C2 with the Steelers and remains healthy, he will be remembered as the all time best Steeler RB. If he signs elsewhere, he will be remembered as a really good RB.

  8. I have nothing nice to say about this jerk.

    A career ending injury is what is needed for miscreants and non-team players like this clown.

  9. Remember when the Steelers played the Patriots in the AFCCG? The biggest game of Bell’s career? Remember when Bell took himself out of the game after getting smacked in the mouth a couple of times as Big Ben, Brown and the rest of the offense toughed it out and played on?

    You can bet Steelers management remembers that day.

  10. I don’t think Bell is doing himself any favors the way he’s handling this. At some point he needs to realize they aren’t going to give him the $20M per year he probably wants. He’s not going to get any more money out of them so in essence this is a contract year. If he goes out and puts up record numbers he’s going to get a big fat contract next year. If he sits out and struggles at the beginning of the season, the only one he’s hurting is himself. However, he probably isn’t self-aware enough to realize that.

    Also, let’s be honest here. He definitely benefits from having AB on his team. The next team he signs with won’t have AB and he likely won’t go to a team that does. Then his numbers will suffer and he’ll look like a bust and that will be the beginning of the end for him. If he had any self-awareness he’d figure out some way to make it work in Pittsburgh. Just ask Demarco Murray how that worked out for him.

  11. silvernblacksabbath says:
    July 10, 2018 at 11:40 am
    RB by committee vs paying one guy a ton. Eagles and Pats know the recipe.

    ———–

    Yes…..and it is good insurance around people getting hurt

  12. If anyone acted inappropriate here it’s the Steelers…we’re told over and over how replaceable the running back position is…you can find them in any round…the best teams use a RB by committee approach…etc…yet the Steelers have the nerve to franchise tag a RB twice…? Bell honored his contract with the Steelers…Bell became a top player at his position…The Steelers are the ones not acting in good faith…The Steelers are abusing the franchise tag holding Bell hostage after he honored his contract…either pay him what he’s worth…or let someone else…

  13. I’m saying this in advance to not sound small minded, I don’t label an entire fanbase for this but a portion of Steelers fans have been spoiled most of their lives with success and are really clueless on the talent of Bell. Without question he should have been paid as the highest back in the league. Losing him would cripple this offense an would essentially end Ben’s career at this point. Without his checkdown and superior pass blocking Ben wouldn’t last much longer.

    On the other hand, Bell holding out this season would be a disaster. He needs to be in camp to learn the new offense, this is nothing like last year when Haley’s offense he knew like the back of his hand. Bell missing camp and not knowing terminology or the plays wouldn’t benefit him at all if he is auditioning for a long term deal.

  14. mysterytonite says:
    July 10, 2018 at 12:59 pm
    I’m saying this in advance to not sound small minded, I don’t label an entire fanbase for this but a portion of Steelers fans have been spoiled most of their lives with success and are really clueless on the talent of Bell. Without question he should have been paid as the highest back in the league.

    ———

    They have already made him the highest paid back in the league. That’s isn’t enough for him.

  15. Remember when the Steelers played the Patriots in the AFCCG? The biggest game of Bell’s career? Remember when Bell took himself out of the game after getting smacked in the mouth a couple of times as Big Ben, Brown and the rest of the offense toughed it out and played on?

    You can bet Steelers management remembers that day.

    20

    Do you remember the day the Pats lost draft picks and Brady got suspended for Cheating. Do you remember when Ninocich and Edelman were suspended for PED’S….? I am sure the Patriot front office remembers. Troll get some new horses to beat ….your ponies are dead and smell just like your posts.

  16. Nofoolnodrool says:
    July 10, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    Remember when the Steelers played the Patriots in the AFCCG? The biggest game of Bell’s career? Remember when Bell took himself out of the game after getting smacked in the mouth a couple of times as Big Ben, Brown and the rest of the offense toughed it out and played on?

    You can bet Steelers management remembers that day.

    20

    Do you remember the day the Pats lost draft picks and Brady got suspended for Cheating. Do you remember when Ninocich and Edelman were suspended for PED’S….? I am sure the Patriot front office remembers. Troll get some new horses to beat ….your ponies are dead and smell just like your posts.

    —-

    You still mad, bro?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!