Running back Le'Veon Bell said last night that he’s “so torn” regarding “decisions” he needs to make. Presumably, he’s talking about two or more teams from which to choose for 2019 and beyond and not what he was planning to have for dinner.
Wherever he ends up going, the biggest question will be whether his new contract will justify skipping all of 2018 and giving up the $14.54 million he would have made from the Steelers. While many will look to the average value of his next contract to answer that question, the real question will be how much of the deal will be fully guaranteed at signing and (given the position he plays) how much will be guaranteed for injury.
Ultimately, that’s what Bell was trying to preserve: The guaranteed money that he would make on a multi-year deal negotiated on the open market, with no restrictions or other devices that would reduce his overall haul. So then the question becomes whether the $14.54 million that was sacrificed in 2018 in the name of preserving Bell’s body will be outweighed by whatever he gets now.
It won’t be an easy analysis to perform, and reasonable minds will differ on whether he gets enough to make missing a full year, and the money that went along with it, worthwhile. Besides, the naysayers likely will be inclined to focus more closely on the average value of the deal — and the closer it is to $14.54 million, the more ammunition they’ll have to say the missed season was a failure for Bell. Even if that’s really not the way to look at it.
Regardless, he could still get significantly more than $14.54 million per year. Look at some of the deals that already have been done (or at least that unofficially will be done). The money is flowing; without naming names, plenty of guys who aren’t nearly as potent or effective as Le’Veon Bell have cashed in. Bell should, too, and don’t be surprised if he’s north of $17 million per year.