The Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell have reportedly been going through some long-term contract negotiations, and Tuesday, February 20th is a big day in those discussions. Reportedly, the Steelers and Bell circled the 20th on the calendar as a goal to get a long-term contract completed.
Why the 20th? The 20th of February is the first day NFL franchises can choose to place franchise tags on players, something Bell would like to avoid for the second straight year.
Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on Thursday that this is precisely what has happened. The deadline set by the team is February 20, and Bell said he’d like to get a deal done by then, too.
“That is definitely the goal,” Bell said.
Bell also said that negotiations can continue if they don’t hit their goal.
The date of February 20 wasn’t randomly selected; that’s when the window opens for applying the franchise tag. For Bell, the tag would result in a one-year guaranteed salary of $14.56 million, a 20-percent raise over his 2017 franchise tender of $12.1 million.
The move isn’t a surprise, because the Steelers often create artificial rules and deadlines when it comes to negotiations, and Steelers players almost always comply. Bell, frankly, should decline; the Steelers can huff and puff and leak unflattering details about Bell and otherwise whine about him taking a hard line, but Bell has the leverage. And he should use it.
There is a chance the Steelers and Bell come to terms on a new deal, especially after the team was able to create salary cap space by restructuring both Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro’s current contracts.
However, if the two sides don’t come to terms on a deal, and the team places the franchise tag on Bell, again, it doesn’t mean a new contract isn’t going to get done. The two parties will have time to get a deal done, and if they don’t, like in 2017, the team will risk calling Bell’s bluff regarding his comments made of potentially walking away from the game rather than playing another year under the franchise tag.
With all that said, there could be big news Tuesday, but the day could also come and go with nothing more than the announcement the Steelers have placed the franchise tag on Bell.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and others, surrounding the black-and-gold.