The deadline for signing an extension may well have long since passed, but that has not stopped the talk about the contract offer Le’Veon Bell turned down from the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those who have been keeping track, all sorts of numbers have been floated around the internet in the past few months, with both sides of the debate picking out the figures they like best to support their argument.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was the latest with some new nuggets of information to share about the deal Bell rejected on Friday, and if his source turns out to accurate, the contract the Steelers’ star running back turned down actually provided very similar guarantees to those given to Todd Gurley.
While it was publicly reported as a $60 million deal that included $45 million guaranteed, the reality of Gurley's contract is that the actual guarantees are worth just $21.95 million. The bulk of the remaining guarantees come in the form of roster bonuses and injury guarantees after 2019 and the Rams can still cut him at any point to avoid paying him significant portions of the deal.
Pittsburgh reportedly were offering Bell a $10 million signing bonus and ALSO a $10 million roster bonus in 2018, according to Florio. When added to the minimum base salary they could have paid him as per league rules, Bell would have been guaranteed $20.79 million in year one alone. A suggested cash flow of $47 million over the first three years of the deal sounds credible, given that would equate to around $13 million in 2019 and 2020 and likely made up of roster bonuses and a large base salary as the Steelers have done with other star players on the roster.
With Pittsburgh’s offer consistently having been reported as being worth in the region of $70 to $72 million over five years, that would imply earnings in the region of $12 million in each of the last two years of the offer. If all these suppositions hold true, the back end of the deal might have been a reason to reject the contract, but the level of guarantees were not.
That being said, all of this is a moot point now with Bell destined to be playing elsewhere in 2019, if not sooner, but worth keeping in mind the next time someone suggests the Steelers did not offer their star running back enough in guarantees.