Appearing on ESPN’s draft coverage over the weekend, Mike Tomlin said this when asked about the offseason departures of Bell and Brown: “There’s been a cleansing, if you will.”
I will not. I will regard the fact that Bell and Brown are gone as avoidable consequences of the manner in which the Steelers do business. If the Steelers, who applied the franchise tag to Le’Veon Bell for two straight years, were willing to structure long-term deals the way that other teams do, Bell would be entering the third year of a long-term contract. And if the Steelers, who selected Brown in the sixth-round of the 2010 draft, had been willing to hold him accountable once he became a great player, Brown wouldn’t have even considering making a power play that forced the Steelers to give him away for a third- and fifth-round draft choice.
As to Bell, it’s definitely not Tomlin’s fault. As to Brown, it definitely is. Either way, the team wouldn’t have needed a “cleansing” if the team had known how to clean as it went. The only question moving forward is whether it’s learned from its mistakes or, if not, whether and when recent history will repeat itself.