Yes, Le’Veon Bell could stay away into the regular season — at a price

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As the clock ticks loudly toward the deadline for a long-term deal between the Steelers and running back Le'Veon Bell, it’s time for both sides to apply any and all pressure aimed at getting something done on the terms most favorable to them. From the player’s perspective, the ultimate leverage isn’t staying away until Labor Day; it’s staying away until the Tuesday after Week 10.

That’s the deadline for his arrival and acceptance of the franchise tender. Specifically, if Bell shows up before then, he gets $14.5 million (or $852,000 for each of the 17 weeks he’s with the team). If he shows up after then, he can’t; he’d be done for the year.

Adam Schefter of ESPN said this morning on SiriusXM NFL Radio that it’s “possible” Bell stays away until the middle of the year. Of course it’s possible. But the far more important question is whether it’s likely.

Bell would lose more than $8.5 million if he skips 10 regular-season games. In return, what would he get? Other than avoiding possible injury, he’d have no leverage because the Steelers wouldn’t be able sign him to a long-term deal until after the regular season ends.

Sure, the Steelers could give Bell more than $14.5 million on a one-year deal, or add other terms like incentive targets and a commitment not to use the franchise or transition tag in 2019. (The franchise tag would cost roughly $25 million next year, so that’s likely not happening anyway.) But the Steelers, who like to dictate terms to players and don’t like having players dictate terms to them, probably wouldn’t be inclined to do that.

Then there’s the potential fan reaction to Bell skipping games. Already sensitive about the perception in Pittsburgh that he’s a bad guy for simply trying to get the best possible deal, Bell would surely hate the way fans respond to a decision to skip games that count.

So, to summarize, Bell possibly will miss up to 10 regular-season weeks. And the Steelers possibly will rescind the franchise tag. And every other possible permutation possibly will happen. For now, all that matters is whether the two sides get a deal executed by 4:00 p.m. ET.

33 responses to “Yes, Le’Veon Bell could stay away into the regular season — at a price

  1. Florio – just relax and wait to see what happens.

    I doubt Bell misses any reg season games, he won’t leave millions on the table, guy likes money too much.

  2. Other than avoiding possible injury, he’d have no leverage because the Steelers wouldn’t be able sign him to a long-term deal until after the regular season ends.

    ________________

    Well if they can’t reach a agreement by 4pm EST then the Steelers would not be able to sign him long-term regardless until after the regular season ends. So he’s actually losing no leverage of sitting out until after week 10. This is the NFL all it take is one dumb team to open the paycheck to give him above running back market on the open market, plus he’d be saving 10 games of wear and tear on his body which for his position is huge value to a new team.

  3. “I wonder how many New England fanatics are going to comment on this???”
    ——————————————–
    picksix will be here shortly to blame it on Goodell cheating the Patriots.

  4. It’s weird — RBs as a position group are one of the lowest paid on average. The NFL just doesn’t value them as much any more. If the Steelers follow the NFL trend, this could be a long, drawn out battle.

  5. Number of carries going up, number of yards going down. This is not to difficult from the Steelers standpoint. They are essentially negotiating against themselves. LB takes the reasonable offer and if not Steelers move on. The most recent rumor has it that he wants tag type raises for each year in the total value of the contract. Very creative thinking but not really realistic as you refuse to practice with your team in a sport that is the ultimate team sport. Good luck in free agency.

  6. Hey, I’m a Pats fan, but I’m commenting on this anyway.

    If I’m the Steelers, I’d let him hit FA and let him see what offers he’d get. Any team even thinking of paying a RB $15m+ per season is nuts. RB’s aren’t needed in this passing league.

    I think Bell’s an awesome player, but what exactly have the Steelers done WITH him? Pay someone $5m, get 70% of Bell’s production and then use the $10m saved to make investments in other areas of your team.

    You don’t need “the best RB” to win a SB, you need the best team.

  7. he definitely deserves some sort of solid deal … but it’s hard to believe he hasn’t over-priced himself.

  8. This dude has 30 million in the bank, what is long term security going to do that the franchise tag doesn’t give him. That tag pays him like a QB rather than a RB.

  9. This is not going to end well for Bell! Like I said earlier; I’m all for NFL payers trying to get paid, especially running backs. However due to how offenses are designed today vs. the pre early 2000’s eras it’s insane to give an RB a 3 yr deal or longer with more than $10MM in average annual salary. It’s unfortunate for RB’s that since the mid 2000’s NFL offenses are designed to be less RB featured and not to mention the punishment that their bodies endure, contributes to a short shelf life. Additionally, in Bell’s particular case, with him being 6’1′, he may have chosen the wrong sport to play!

  10. I watched the Steelers/Jax playoff game replay last night. The Steelers are a very talented offensive team and their success in drafting great players comes at a price once the rookie contract is up. The offense did not lose that game, the defense had a bad game and more than a few of the coaching decisions were very questionable. Right now the Steelers can sustain a $14.5 million franchise tag hit, so why not work something out that keeps LB as the highest paid RB but doesn’t put them in cap hell. I doubt anyone is going to ever offer anything greater that $14.5 million average contract.

  11. He isn’t holding out that long. Do the math. He reportedly wants $17 mill a year. If he misses out on $8.5 million he needs to make that up which wild push the average on his next contract to closer to $19 million (over 4 or 5 years). Do you think anyone will give him that? No. No one will.

    So good luck. Hold out if you want.

  12. I’d use him up this year and transition tag him next year.
    Get those two 1st round picks if someone is willing to overpay for him.

  13. Take the money offered and find a capable running back, let Bell hit the road. Bell was offered a more than fair deal for a running back in todays game . Bell is misled by his own self-worth. . No way he would be stupid enough to sit out all year.

  14. If RBs wanted to be paid QB money, they should have spent a lot more time working on their passing ability and pocket footwork.

    No matter how good a RB you might be, a team can find a passable replacement for a lot less money. It is just the reality of the NFL. Not all positions are equal in importance.

  15. “I’d use him up this year and transition tag him next year.
    Get those two 1st round picks if someone is willing to overpay for him.”

    There is zero compensation included with the transition tag. You don’t even receive a comp pick if you decline to match the offer.

  16. How about this? Stay in shape until week 9, then report to the team. Take a few games to get in actual football shape. By week 12, he is at full “best RB in the league” mode.

    Then, in the playoffs, pull a Joe Flacco. Play the absolute best 3 (or 4) games of your life, maybe your career, carry the team to SB win #7, win the SB MVP. The fans will be clamoring loudly, demanding a long term deal.

    Yeah, I could live with that…

  17. vikings1234 says:
    July 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm
    I watched the Steelers/Jax playoff game replay last night. The Steelers are a very talented offensive team and their success in drafting great players comes at a price once the rookie contract is up. The offense did not lose that game, the defense had a bad game and more than a few of the coaching decisions were very questionable. Right now the Steelers can sustain a $14.5 million franchise tag hit, so why not work something out that keeps LB as the highest paid RB but doesn’t put them in cap hell. I doubt anyone is going to ever offer anything greater that $14.5 million average contract.

    ———

    Or they could find a couple of guys for $2M each and put the saved $10M into their defense….

  18. They are stupid to use the 14.5mil franchise tag. Let him go and sign three more udfa’s and turn them loose with little to no loss in production.

  19. $852,000 for each of the 17 weeks he’s with the team

    I hope he doesn’t expect any sympathy from those of us who work for a living every day year in year out who may not make in a decade as much as he makes every game.

    Here’s another thing. If he wants to break the bank, the only team that will pay him that likely has no other star players on offense so he’d have to carry the load all by himself. Not having AB on his new team will mean teams will concentrate on stopping Bell. I can’t wait to hear him whine about that on his new team. Just like Demarco Murray, Bell will chase the money, which is fine, but find himself out of the league in three years. He’ll whine about that too. He’ll probably beg the Steelers to take him back. They’ll say no thanks.

  20. Sorry but if they aren’t going to pay Bell no way to I give them a chance to run me into the ground. I make every effort to come out of the game and not allow them to endanger my future worth. Moron Steeler fans will realize what a talent he is thinking they can get the same production with an average talent like Connor or Toiussant. Good luck with that. He might not see the ideal contract he wants but 31 teams bidding for his service it’s impossible not to get a better deal in 2019 than the insulting lowballs he’s been getting from that cheap franchise that can’t even put a logo on the other side of the helmet.

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