In fewer than seven hours, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell will, or won’t, have a long-term deal. If he doesn’t, he can’t have one until the regular season ends, at the earliest.
Peter King, in his Football Morning in America debut, writes that Bell “continues to be confident” that a deal will get done. Ultimately, that hinges on whether the Steelers will give Bell what he wants, or whether Bell will accept the most the Steelers are willing to pay.
As explained on Saturday, it’s not easy to value a long-term deal, given that the $14.5 million Bell is owed for 2018 morphs into an unknown for 2019. Ultimately, what will Bell take in exchange for $14.5 million plus a shot at the open market? And what will the Steelers pay beyond $14.5 million for 2018 to keep him in 2019, and beyond?
The Steelers, who very much like to create their own rules and deadlines (CBA be damned), tried to squeeze Bell into accepting a long-term deal before the deadline arrived for applying the franchise tag. Bell wisely resisted the artificial deadline.
Now on the doorstep of the real deadline, what will happen? By 4:00 p.m. ET today we’ll know.
And if a long-term deal doesn’t happen, things could get unpredictable (and interesting) after that.