Le’Veon Bell’s plans changed when he realized he could skip season, become free agent

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For much of the 2018 season, it was believed that Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell needed to show up by the Tuesday after Week 10 in order to position himself for free agency in 2019. Bell and his agent believed that, too.

That’s why, and how, Bell’s plan to report after Week Seven became a plan to sit out the whole year.

“That was the biggest mix-up the whole time,” Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “I thought I had to sit out until Week 10 or else they can [franchise] tag me again [at $14.54 million]. Around the bye week, that’s when I found out I didn’t have to play.”

Instead, the rules contemplate that, even if the player never plays under the second franchise tag, the next franchise tag will be the third franchise tag — and the price the third franchise tag becomes the average of the five highest-paid players at the highest-paid position, which always will be quarterback.

Bell told Fowler that Bell learned this “new information” on social media, that he consulted his agent, Adisa Bakari, about the situation, and that Bell then decided not to show up. (This is a roundabout way of Bell admitting that his agent didn’t know about the rule.)

Even after Bell realized that he could skip the full season and still force his way to free agency, Bell thought about showing up for the final weeks of the season.

“I was so close to doing it,” Bell said. “At the same time, I was so torn. Do I go through that? Will they embrace me or will they not? I eventually decided I sat out 10 games, I can sit six more. At the time, the team was malfunctioning, having problems, a lot of blame on me. I didn’t want to come back and not feel welcome.”

Bell also had concerns about suffering an injury during the final six games of the season. So he skipped the entire year, the Steelers couldn’t (as a practical matter) apply the franchise tag for a third time, they decided not to use the transition tag after they learned it would have cost $14.54 million, they let him hit the open market, and now Bell is a Jet.

Most importantly, every non-quarterback now tagged for a second time knows that he can sit out the full season and force his way to the open market the next year.

40 responses to “Le’Veon Bell’s plans changed when he realized he could skip season, become free agent

  1. Meveon isn’t the brightest bulb. Jets will realize they can’t winner with this selfish loser.

  2. So he was concerned he might not feel welcome?

    Hmmm.

    I heard that was AB’s concern too.

  3. >>Most importantly, every non-quarterback now tagged for a second time knows that he can sit out the full season and force his way to the open market the next year.

    And miss out on money they will never be able to earn back in their lifetime.

  4. “This is a roundabout way of Bell admitting that his agent didn’t know about the rule.”

    Nah his agent wanted him to play and probably didn’t mention it. He gets 3% of the franchise tag so it is in his benefit for his client to play.

  5. why is it so hard for so many of you to understand that Bell was looking for the security that came with the guaranteed money of a long term contract? He obviously isn’t going to recoup the money he missed out on last season but now he has something like 33 million fully guaranteed even if he gets hurt on the first day of training camp next season. It’s easy for you to sit on your soap boxes and call him selfish for making a business decision but unless you’re in his shoes you don’t really have no right to do so

  6. spartanlegend says:

    why is it so hard for so many of you to understand that Bell was looking for the security that came with the guaranteed money of a long term contract? He obviously isn’t going to recoup the money he missed out on last season but now he has something like 33 million fully guaranteed even if he gets hurt on the first day of training camp next season.
    ———————————————–
    When it’s all said and done, Bell will receive approximately $25 million fully guaranteed from the Jets as opposed to the $20 million he would have receive from the Steelers. To get that extra $5 million in cash, he gave up $14.5 million in salary. He’s also traded Pennsylvania’s tax rate for New Jersey’s, which is considerably higher. And he’s traded the Steelers’ offensive line for the Jets’, which isn’t nearly as good and increases his risk of injury. The more Bell talks, the more obvious it is that he had poor representation throughout this episode. Never thought I’d feel sorry for the guy, but I do.

    The league and the NFLPA have a lot to discuss in their next CBA negotiations. Perhaps they should consider eliminating tagging altogether.

  7. Bell was a guinea pig for media lawyers and he lost. That’s why there are so many in the media trying to declare victory for him.

  8. What he doesn’t realize is how good the steelers oline is but guess he will once he tries to run behind the jets oline.Another thing is he lied to his teammates about showing up last season I don’t care if you’re in a contract dispute you don’t lie to your teammates he should’ve just told them he had no plans on showing up instead of telling them he would be there by a certain time after lieing to them that had every right to bash him in the media but what he don’t realize is if he had showed up and played conner would’ve never got the oppurtunity he did and the steelers would’ve most likely offere another contract worth more then the previous offer.

  9. Sometimes you gotta lose money to control your future. Not saying I would do it, given the situation, but clearly Leveon felt it was better to sign a long term contract than be in Steelers purgatory on one year deals until his leverage is maxed out. Not a good decision, but it is certainly his right.

  10. I would love to hear or read the official reasoning for that determination. It certainly helped Bell this go around. I suspect if this section remains in the next CBA, it will be changed in favor of the teams. They lose the player for a season, carry enough cap space flexibility to absorb him coming back at any moment and then lose the player the following season.

    Strictly speaking, no one won on that deal.

  11. 14MILLION and all the compounded returns on it are gone forever.

    Now he gets less money in a much higher taxed State and City (with that money and all compounded returns on it gone forever).

    Anyone that has any understanding of the situation knows it was a TERRIBLE financial decision.

  12. Should have taken the Steelers offer. Would have made more and be playing for a better team.

  13. 33vikes says:
    March 16, 2019 at 7:49 pm
    Someone has to educate me on how skipping a year and $14M was a good idea for him? Anyone?

    ——————
    It wasnt.

  14. Let’s see …. signed with the Jets at less per year than the Steeelers were offering him and game up a #14M 2018 paycheck. Apparently the CTE is setting in early on this one.

  15. indiapalealeblog says:
    March 16, 2019 at 8:02 pm
    >>Most importantly, every non-quarterback now tagged for a second time knows that he can sit out the full season and force his way to the open market the next year.

    And miss out on money they will never be able to earn back in their lifetime.

    ———————-
    Correct. The smarter thing would have been to take out an insurance policy against injury and played under the cap. If they tag him again then heck, another policy and play that one too. Now when he finally hits the market his value is much higher than it would have been had he been sitting. Plus we would have an incredible amount of money in his pocket already (in pocket = guaranteed too ya know?) For a good example of how to beat a team at the tag game look not at Bell but at Cousins. Whether or not you like him as a qb you do have to admit he has played his business situation to the max.

  16. If you’re Bell’s agent how do you not 100% know EXACTLY what the rules are months in advance of the season? He seriously found out on social media. Did the agent have something better to do than to find out how big BIGGEST CLIENT could make THE MOST MONEY?

  17. Bell lost millions of dollars for not playing last year that he will never get back.

    The only thing players can learn from Bell is not even think to do what he did last year

  18. He’ll NEVER make that $14.5M up. Dumb Bell will get suspended, hurt, or just outright quit again. He’s not going to make any difference.

  19. Bell gave up a year of his peak prime to illuminate a clear fact.
    The NFL is dangerous, and a severe injury ends careers.
    The simple fact is Bell could have tore his ACL or spiral fractured his tibia and been done.
    The fact that the Steelers couldn’t negotiate a deal with home legy both with hard feelings, and Bell lost a year. But so did the Steelers!
    The Steelers didn’t make the playoffs in a year they could have won a Super Bowl, so they lost out too.
    The reason the Steelers are OK with losing a year, is that the Rooney family gets to make $250 million annually FOREVER.
    So they let this year happen, to maximize their financial model, because they are playing the long money game.
    The losers are the fans, and to a certain extent Bell. but as anyone who’s been divorced knows, sometimes scorched earth is better than reasonable split.

  20. How about in the future for any player that receives a franchise tag, the team is obligated to pay for that players insurance policy with money that does not go against the cap?

  21. troy43mvp says:
    March 17, 2019 at 9:18 am
    How about in the future for any player that receives a franchise tag, the team is obligated to pay for that players insurance policy with money that does not go against the cap?

    ———————
    Honestly that would be a very good rule. Subtle, but it would have a lot if impact to the model. I think what you would see is a lot more guys following Cousin’s model of overcoming being tagged than Bells. Even paying for his own insurace Cousins still got everything he wanted AND cleaned up financially on the way to getting it.

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