After the NFL Network released their Top 10 of their Top 100 list, they interviewed several players who were within that group. One of those was Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who ranked 5th on the Top 100 list, and of course he was going to be asked about his current contract situation with the black-and-gold front office.
However, his answer might surprise many when he was asked how contract negotiations were going.
“We’re a lot closer than we were last year at this time,” Bell said Monday night on NFL Network. “That’s what I’m happy about. None of that matters if we don’t get it done. Hopefully, we’ll try to get something done. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’ve got confidence we’ll get it done.
“I want to do it.”
The two parties have until July 16th to get a long-term contract done, and if nothing changes from last year Bell will be forced to play another season under the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag. If this were to happen, as many are predicting, Bell would then be following the same path he did last year of sitting out training camp and the preseason, but Bell realizes how this year he can’t get off to such a slow start like in 2017.
“It’s just getting back in the groove with the offense,” he said. “When you’re not in there in camp, minicamp, OTAs and things like that, they find different rhythms with different backs in there — whatever player they put in that spot that I would be in. I’ve got to find a way to get back quicker.”
For the first time in two years, Bell seemed to be extremely vocal about his desire to sign a deal with the Steelers. This compared to the usual comments about being paid what he is worth and re-setting the running back market. Bell wants a long-term deal for job security, he wants a long-term deal to remain with the team who drafted him and so he can avoid these yearly discussions and just play football.
“I don’t want to have … what happened last year,” Bell said. “If it came down to it, then I’ve got to do what I’ve gotta do, take my stand and protect myself. But I don’t want to have to do that. I want to go to camp and play for the Steelers long term.”
Time is ticking away...and the debate rages on whether the Steelers and Bell finally get a deal done.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for the transcript of the interview.)