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It is getting very difficult to defend Le’Veon Bell

The ability to defend Le’Veon Bell’s comments and actions are becoming ridiculously difficult.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

”Boohoo, you had me, then you lost me.”

That quote is from an old Saturday Night Live skit with the late and great Phil Hartman impersonating the late and legendary Frank Sinatra.

But while Sinatra’s (Hartman’s) line was directed at singer Sinead O’Conner (played by the late and lovely Jan Hooks) back then, I think it could apply to the Steelers current star running back, Le’Veon Bell, and how some fans--including old yours truly--are starting to feel about his alleged contract demands.

If recent reports are true, Bell wants a deal that will average $17 million a season (just like his teammate and buddy, superstar receiver Antonio Brown), which means the negotiating gap between he and Pittsburgh has gotten wider instead of the other way around.

If that’s the case, well, it’s quite easy to understand why a deal couldn’t be reached for a second year in a row. It’s also easy to see why fans have grown even more disenchanted with the dual-threat running back, who is thought of by many as simply the best at his position in the NFL.

And when it comes to that last part, I get where Bell is coming from.

If you’re Bell and you see a free agent like quarterback Sam Bradford ink a deal with the Cardinals that could pay him $20 million next season, wouldn’t you be a little miffed, knowing you’re far the superior player, regardless of the position you play?

Yes, Bradford’s deal is incentive laden and requires him to stay healthy in order to earn all of that dough, but the point is, he has a chance to earn all of that dough.

As for Bell, the restrictions of the franchise tag prevent him from going out and seeing if some team, hungry for a star running back and/or starving for a chance to make a splash for its fan base, will throw an ungodly sum of money his way.

OK, I get that, but I don’t get why Bell has upped his price $2 million above the amount per season he rapped about last year--$15 million.

What that’s telling me is Bell may not actually want to be a Steeler anymore. It’s one thing to say something (“I want to be a Steeler for life”). It’s quite another to do something such as up the ante significantly in order to make that proclamation a reality.

Bell has to know the Steelers--a team always pretty much up against the cap--aren’t going to significantly increase their offer far above the reported $13 million a season they were willing to pay him before negotiates cooled off yet again.

If you would have told me Bell simply wanted a deal that averaged as much or slightly more than the $14.5 million the franchise tag will pay him in 2018, I would be all for that.

Why should Bell have to settle for less than a tag that restricts his ability to explore the free market?

But $2 million above what he wanted a year ago, when he’s one year and 406 touches older?

Come on, Le’Veon.

Don’t force me to have to agree with all of the naysayers and haters out there. Don’t justify the cries that you’re greedy.

What you do on the football field can’t be understated, neither can your value to the offense.

When the Steelers offense flows through Bell, there’s no question it performs so much better.

Yes, Bell is a bit of a “victim” of bad circumstances, meaning he’s currently employed (or at least controlled until he signs the tag) by an organization with a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and unquestionably the greatest receiver in the NFL in Brown, who did get the deal he desired.

But, fair or not, the market for quarterbacks and wide receivers is a little higher than it is for running backs.

However, as others have pointed out, Bell is also the beneficiary of perhaps an inflated running back market, complete with a franchise tag that will pay him no less than $14.5 million in 2018, if he simply puts pen to paper.

This is why Bell really needs to meet Pittsburgh in the middle. It’s not unfathomable that the Steelers would be willing to up their offer to meet Bell’s original demands of $15 million a year, which would--as has been cited several thousand times--put him in a class all his own, when it comes to the market for running backs.

It’s hard to say why Bell keeps moving the goal posts, but he needs to move them back to where they were last summer if he’s truly serious about staying home.

Do you really want to stay home, Le’Veon?

If you’re not greedy, if you’re not all about the money, you won’t have to compromise all that much to remain a Pittsburgh Steeler beyond 2018.