Running back Le'Veon Bell won his freedom from the Steelers by taking a stand and sitting out a full season. Now that he’s a member of the Jets, Bell reflected on the mindset of the team that made him a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
“Pittsburgh is a great organization,” Bell told Jenny Vrentas of SI.com. “They’ve got a great owner, head coach. They kind of treat you like — they don’t treat you like you’re human. What I mean by that is like, yeah, I’m an NFL athlete, but still I’m a human being. You know what I’m saying? I still play video games, I still make music. They don’t want to allow you to be yourself. They want you to be, if you’re a Steelers, you’re literally playing football 24/7. You’re not supposed to be playing video games and like making music, playing basketball. You’re not supposed to be doing that. You’re supposed to be working out.”
You’re also supposed to be doing what the Steelers want as it relates to the structure of contracts. Which is what created the problem in the first place. If the Steelers had simply offered Bell the full amount of the franchise tag for 2017 ($12.1 million) and the full amount of the franchise tag for 2018 ($14.54 million), fully guaranteed, Bell quite possibly would have (and arguably should have) accepted a four- or five-year deal starting with $26.64 million over the first two years.
Instead, Bell made the $12.1 million, sat out a year, and got the $26.64 (plus .36) million fully guaranteed from the Jets. While the process was rocky and some remain determined to declare Bell a loser (presumably so that they can say they were right about their position that he shouldn’t sit out the year), the Steelers flicked the first domino by virtue of their stubborn refusal to deviate from the way they structure contracts, even when the player carries the franchise tag.
For more on this and other subjects, check out Wednesday’s PFTOT, appearing in the video attached to this blurb.