On Monday, the Steelers leaked just enough of their final offer to running back Le'Veon Bell to make Bell look greedy and unreasonable. On Tuesday, enough additional information emerged about the proposed package to make the Steelers look disingenuous and delusional.
The news that the contract had only $10 million in fully-guaranteed cash means that Bell couldn’t have accepted it. And if his agent, Adisa Bakari, would have accepted it on Bell’s behalf, Bakari probably wouldn’t have been an agent for much longer.
Bell already has, in hand, a one-year contract offer that will pay him $14.5 million fully guaranteed. Why would he commit to five years with only $10 million guaranteed when he can collect nearly 50 percent more than that and get paid market value in less than eight months?
It’s still not known what the Steelers would have paid Bell in base salary this year. That payment would have been as a practical matter guaranteed, because they wouldn’t have cut him before the start of the regular season. But unless it was at least another $10 million, why would Bell have traded a bird in the hand for a different bird in the bush?
The question throughout the negotiation process was whether the Steelers would make Bell the kind of offer that prompted him to swap $14.5 million and a path to free agency. Whatever the 2018 base salary, the Steelers didn’t come close — and they surely know it.
Which requires keeping a close eye on the possibility that, come late August, the Steelers will rescind the franchise tender before Bell can accept it.