Steelers made Le’Veon Bell an offer he couldn’t accept

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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.

43 responses to “Steelers made Le’Veon Bell an offer he couldn’t accept

  1. The Steelers might as well have told Bell to get ready to move on. That’s the message of that low ball offer. It was totally disrespectful.

    Bell has to make a smart decision now about when he returns to the Steelers. This season, if Bell plays he can expect to be run into the ground. Rather than taking that wear and tear plus risking injury, he should wait until the last minute to sign the tender. If the Steelers rescind the tender, so much the better.

  2. Steeler Brass arrogance… you would think the founding team of the Rooney rule would be the last one to try to grossly take advantage of one of there own players….

  3. So this means Pitt does not want to keep him, but renting him and not getting anything back is a big mistake.

    BB wisely dealt off Chandler Jones for this very reason and then NE won a SB and went to another, while positioning themselves for yet another.

    Pitt will rent Bell for 1 year and get no ROI of any kind. That’s bad management. They had to have known he was immature and selfish.

    You can’t say you want to play in Pittsburgh and at the same time want 15 mil per as aN RB.

  4. “Fully guaranteed” likely means the signing bonus, as the Steelers don’t give a large % of guaranteed money to anyone but QBs. That’s still not accounting for whatever he makes in base salary this year, which again, would be 99.9% guaranteed (unless he fails a drug test or goes full Aaron Hernandez before September).

    Both sides are just putting out numbers that justify their stances. The $14.5M cash and cap hit is already budgeted for this year – why would they only be paying him $10M this year just to bear a larger cap burden in future years?

  5. Bell is going to have to keep that $14.5 mill. contract and a fax machine handy during camp and the pre-season. If one of the RB’s on that team looks good enough, or if they pick up a free agent who runs well in that system and with their line, they could easily see no reason to pay him anything this season. He’s going to have to be ready to sign it and fax it PDQ if it looks like that’s happening.

  6. There could be some trust issues here.
    Point being.
    The Steelers don’t trust Bell won’t do something stupid to get suspended or get hurt again.
    Either way was not going to risk much past this year.

  7. 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.

    This is my hope

  8. Pretty obvious they’ve had enough of Bell. Surprising they didn’t draft a dynamic replacement. Maybe with running backs you can draft them and play them in Year 1 – so maybe next year.

  9. Everyone keeps saying Steelers get nothing. They will get a comp. pick when he leaves in free agency. It’s not great but it’s not nothing. But honestly I think the Steelers are closers to rebuild mode then anyone wants to admit. Ben is closer to retirement with every passing year. Not hating just my opinion.

  10. “Reggie, Coach Gruden on line1. He needs you to clear 14.5 million in cap space by August…”

  11. tylawspick6 says:
    July 18, 2018 at 9:08 am
    “So this means Pitt does not want to keep him, but renting him and not getting anything back is a big mistake.

    Pitt will rent Bell for 1 year and get no ROI of any kind. That’s bad management”

    You consistently say things that show you know nothing about football. When you let a highly ranked free agent sign with another team, the NFL awards a compensatory draft pick…probably a 3rd rounder

  12. Clearly they had no intention of keeping him after this year when Bell wouldn’t play ball on a longer term contract.

    Which is fine but they could have just told him so at that point and said sign the tag, play the year out, good luck in free agency next off season. You have every incentive to play well this season to get paid what you are hoping for next year.

  13. Jay Ajayi has one year left on his contract in Philly….but price will be too rich for Eagle’s blood and the addition might change the nature of the locker room, but the talent would be nice to have.

  14. He wouldn’t accept any offer except for something in the line of franchise QB money. Who cares. Good luck to him if he thinks he’s going to get more than the $14.5M he’s getting this year. Go ahead and chase the money like Demarco Murray did but don’t be surprised if you’re out of the league inside of three years.

  15. The spin by both sides is hilarious. Steelers say $30 guaranteed and agent says $10. So the $10M was a signing bonus and the first year was $14M-$14.5M spending on who believe. Bottom line is Steelers are not going to give Bell $10M and not play him first year so in my opinion that is at least $24M guaranteed. It is all a matter of semantics

  16. Another common farce you’ll see in the comments section is how Steeler fans think they don’t need Bell when he represents 40% of their offense or that other teams won’t pay an elite-elite RB.

  17. Stop with the Raiders talk. Mack is about to break the bank, no way the team adds another player who’s near to or is the highest paid at their position. Have to cut the rest of the team.

  18. Next year or this if the offer is rescinded, Bell can get market value. D Freeman is the 2nd highest paid RB at 8.5m. I’m not sure the Steelers offer was really under market value. Yes there could be a team that overpays but there might not.

  19. Time out, they said it was a 10 mil signing bonus and with his added salary for the year it was 23 mil total, so it was 23 mil guaranteed with a chance for 25 with incentives, so 25 mil for the first year. Yeah pit lucked out with him turning that down, no RB is worth that. And Bell is a moron for turning that down.

  20. It’s a surprisingly low guarantee. Would have expected something closer to $20 million. Not surprising Bell turned it down.

    However, the whole offer, if it’s as advertised was still darn good. Bell would have reportedly earned close to $45 million over the next three years which is more than any other RB will earn in five.

    Tough contract to negotiate. Bell believes he should be earning more and wants to set a new mark. I don’t blame him. The Steelers want to pay the position and not the player. I don’t blame them.

    Wish Bell nothing but the best of everything. I hope he has a huge year and earns a standout contract.

  21. The comp pick statements are funny. To get them they will need to avoid spending in FA, the pick comes a year later and the best it could be is a late 3rd. Considering he’s a RB it will be a late 4th. The lowest salary per year that netted a 3rd rounder this year was 12 million. Devote Freeman is the top of the RB market with 8.25 per year.

    Paying him 14 mil for a year and then letting him walk for a late round 4th is not a good ROI. The reason I think it’s worth it is for the SB window I think the steelers are still in.

  22. You’re a major fool if you believe any agent, ever. They are only in it for themselves. Then again, it doesn’t surprise me that people do believe them, they actually believe what Donald Trump says. Lawyers, agents, lobbyists, used car salesmen, and apparently now the president are all made from the same ilk. Never trust them.

  23. silvernblackpride says:
    July 18, 2018 at 9:33 am
    Everyone wants QB money now its getting way out of hand…no wonder it costa 14 bucks for a beer at a game !!!



    I don’t understand these comments that tie the compensation of a single player to the cost of items at the stadium. Each team has a certain amount of money they can (and will) spend on the entire team. That does not change because one guy wants more than another guy. What it does is mean is that if only a few guys get paid a lot of money (Ben, Brown, Bell) that the team necessarily has less to spread across the other 50 guys on the team. This manifests itself by fielding a team with less depth and lesser players across the board.

    The Steelers are making the right move here. They cannot afford to pay Ben, Brown and Bell all and field a decent team. Out of the three, Bell is the most expendable.

  24. 1 1 Rate This
    jxt2521 says:
    July 18, 2018 at 10:47 am
    The comp pick statements are funny. To get them they will need to avoid spending in FA, the pick comes a year later and the best it could be is a late 3rd. Considering he’s a RB it will be a late 4th. The lowest salary per year that netted a 3rd rounder this year was 12 million. Devote Freeman is the top of the RB market with 8.25 per year.

    The comp pick statements were in response to people saying the Steelers would get nothing. A 3rd is not nothing and the Steelers have never been FA spenders

  25. Listen if he’s out there next year I’m sure Cleveland at least takes a stab at him for a ridiculous amount of money, maybe not depends on how they play this year.

  26. No player should ever get Fully Guaranteed money in a Contract, unless it’s a signing bonus. Performance = Pay…plain & simple. Failure to produce = Not worth being employed. Apparently Bell is scared he wouldn’t be good enough.

  27. As the article points out, The current year’s salary was likely also guaranteed, which’d bring him to something like $25m.

    Dude is betting on himself and if he plays well, the Skins, 49ers, Seahawks or somebody else could quite likely give him $30m guaranteed after this year, in addition to the $14 he gets in this year. He’s betting like Cousins, and I think he’s right to do so.

    I think some team that feels it is 1 elite player away from contention will break the bank on him next year, as long as he doesn’t blow a knee. He’s placing a big bet on himself that is in all likelihood going to pay off. Plus, he gets the heck out of Pittsburgh, where the team and the fans don’t appreciate him.

  28. Still trying to figure out the math where $33M in “rolling guarantees over the first 2 years” equals $10M in fully guaranteed money?

    It is very speculative to say this deal wasn’t worthy of consideration. $33M in this “rolling guaranteed money” over the first 2 years sounds like a pretty solid offer to a RB with less tread on the tires than other RBs in his category and also with his suspension history.

  29. Steelers are $14.5 million over the cap if all contracts are considered (including Bell’s franchise offer of $14.544 million and Shazier at $8.718 million); they are $4.4 million under if you only consider the top 51 salaries. That’s 28th or 5th worst in the NFL. Big Ben is on the books for a $23.2 million cap hit this year but is obviously looking for a bump to keep playing. They realistically have seventeen unrestricted free agents coming up for new deals I 2019 including Jesse James, Bryce Harris, Heyward-Bey, Coty Sensabaugh, Vince Williams, Anthony Chickillo, Ramon Foster, Chris Boswell, Tyson Alualu, etc. The second highest paid NFL running back is making $10.5 million per year (in Los Angeles which equates to just over $7 million for Pittsburgh). Bell has two suspensions for drugs and has had numerous injuries (Lisfranc sprain 2013, concussion 2013, ACL sprain 2014, MCL tear 2015, and groin 2017. He is statistically listed as having a 51% chance of injury (meaning being lost for at least 1/2 of a game) (sportsinjurypredictor) and is projected to miss 1.1 games in 2018. He apparently wanted $17 million per year or @40% more than the second highest paid running back (or more than twice as much if you factor in cost of living index). In effect he wanted @10% of the entire team cap (cap is estimated to be $177,200,000). He touched the ball @27-28 times per game. Keeping an obviously disgruntled Bell for 2018 is a bad business decision if there is a viable alternative. If there isn’t the Steelers head office is not doing their job. Watch them pull the tag after the third preseason game (when all injuries to starting players prior to the season will likely be known). No team is going to pay Bell the $14.544 million for Bell then!

  30. Bell to date has signed one multi year deal. His rookie contract. He played under the tag last year 10+ million another tag and 15 million this year. 25+ million for two years with free agency around the corner. I don’t blame him. If he signs a big free agent contract 2019 we are talking in the neighborhood of what 50-60 million over 3 years!
    25+ from the last two years, and a signing bonus 2019 (15-20) and salary (10-15) for 2019!

  31. I’m not a Steelers fan, but Bell is a very overrated runningback; Steelers are smart not to over commit and shows why, as an organization, they’re perennial contenders…

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