Another article, another contract dispute! This time it’s Le’Veon Bell, the star running back from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2018 will be the second straight year that Bell will be playing on a franchise tag. This year he’ll be earning a cool $14.5m, but he wanted more. According to ESPNs Adam Schefter the ask was $75m over five years which would give him a similar pay to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and would make hi the highest paid running back in the league by quite a distance. The problem the Steelers have, according to Bell’s agent, is that they want to play the position and not the player.
It’s true, that running backs get paid less than other skill positions. This is mainly down to the fact that the NFL is focussed more on the passing game and running backs are more likely to get injured and miss games because of the physicality of the position. Bell though is not only a great running back but he’s a useful weapon in the passing game for Roethlisberger. Every top running back coming out of the draft has their pass catching abilities compared to Bell’s as he is the consensus top running back in that facet of the game.
What’s next for Bell then? He’s previously threatened to sit out the season but when the deadline to sign a contract came and went he informed his followers on Twitter that this would be his best year yet. That would indicate he’s likely to play but chances are he decides to miss most of the pre-season and rocks up before Week 1.
There is another option for Bell should he be in the very devious mood. The earliest date that those who are franchise tagged can sign a new deal is after Week 17 of the regular season. If the Steelers get to the playoffs (which isn’t out of the realms of possibilities!), then Bell could threaten to sit out the playoff games and hold the Steelers to ransom. I don’t see it happening and if it did it would mightily piss off the organisation and probably the fan base but it is an option.
From the Steelers point of view, I reckon they run Bell into the ground and then dump him onto free agency at the end of the season. Remember how Dallas did the same to DeMarco Murray? It’s a shame but that’s the business of the game and it’s what I think will happen leaving Bell to find a new team next year (and probably still not get as much as he wants).