With each passing day, the countdown continues for the Steelers front office and Le’Veon Bell to agree to a long-term deal (deadline is set for July 16 at 4:00 p.m. EST). Whether Bell still feels he’s being painted a villain by his fans, is his prerogative. One realization that hardly anyone can deny is his significance to the team’s offense and reasons why he mustn’t be in another uniform for the foreseeable future!
Hall of Fame running back, Jerome Bettis spoke with Nick Wright and Chris Carter on FS1’s show ‘First Things First’. He went on to share his thoughts about how open the Steelers’ window is for winning the Super Bowl.
“I think the Steelers are nowhere near as good a football team without Le’Veon Bell… because of the talent that’s around him… it allows him to do a lot more than most running backs could ever consider doing.”
When asked about Bell’s impact on the team.
“If he was on a different team, they’ll put eight guys in the box; if he lines up (wide), they’ll double cover him. So, they would do so much to limit him somewhere else.”
Check out the full interview here:
If both parties can’t come to terms on a new deal, it will be awkward seeing an integral part of the offense broken up. However, one can make the argument the Steelers transitioned fine without Mike Wallace and James Harrison at first, but star players for any team still have legitimate value to long-term success. Are the Steelers prepared to replace Bell with James Conner now? One could argue it is a possibility, but not only their Super Bowl chances would be affected, they would be very vulnerable to losing their top spot in the AFC North.
In other words, the Steelers can’t turn a blind eye to this situation, even as the 2018 NFL Draft approaches.
What’s more telling is how Bell has already stated skip offseason workouts and training camp again. Will this damage his relationship with the team? It’s still a trick situation no matter how you cut it, but why should Colbert and Tomlin have to worry about distractions?
“Any player that misses training camp… I think it does that affect that player, but I think that if affects his teammates as well, because they don’t get to work together,” said Colbert. “He had a productive year without coming to camp last year. Were we as good as we could have been, especially early? Probably not. Hopefully we can get something done long-term, he plugs in, no distractions and we all go to try to win a Super Bowl.”
Bell has insisted that it’s value more so than the money. “I don’t necessary care about the money aspect of it,” said Bell after following up a 155 total yards performance in the playoff loss to the Jaguars. “I just want to be valued where I’m at. If I am playing this game, I want to set standards for all the other running backs behind me, like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, guys like that. I’m a guy they can kind of look at. I feel I can do that. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do it.”
No matter how you cut it, the thought of Bell not being signed long-term can be a possible sign of things to come. Bell is valuable, but becoming a family resonates more with the organization and the fans than one individual’s value. Being a unified family even means doing everything possible that everyone’s situated is handled appropriately which is why the time is now to try and get a deal done.
Will they be able to get a deal done? Only time will tell, but fans should be hoping Bell and the Steelers can come to terms before it is too late.