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Steelers News: How Todd Gurley could actually hurt Le’Veon Bell’s next contract

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Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether Todd Gurley hitting his major pay day last season could actually hurt, not help, Le’Veon Bell’s next contract.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: Todd Gurley is the best argument for and against Le’Veon Bell’s big money

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

No running back — and no team — did more to influence Le’Veon Bell’s contractual course of action than Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams.

Gurley did enough damage to the rest of the National Football League his first three seasons that the Rams made him the NFL’s highest-paid running back in history. The organization gave him a four-year extension worth $60 million, with $45 million guaranteed.

Los Angeles did that despite a growing movement within the NFL to use a back-by-committee approach. And Gurley made the investment pay off by guiding the Rams to a 13-3 record with 315 touches, 1,831 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns.

I share in a widely held belief that Bell refused to play on the Steelers’ $14.54 million franchise tag in 2018 because Gurley got the money that he did. Remember, Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, said on July 17 that his client would play this past season “barring something exceptional.”

A week later, on July 24, Gurley inked that “exceptional” contract.

The next thing you knew, James Conner was the Steelers’ starting running back, and Bell was jet skiing and working on his jump shot at L.A. Fitness.

Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald signed some big deals shortly thereafter. But it was Gurley who broke the mold at Bell’s position. No doubt Bell felt emboldened at the prospect of holding out and getting a big contract anyway based on the numbers that came in for Gurley.

Now, though, the Gurley deal may be held up as reason to avoid signing Bell to a huge contract as much as it had been viewed as a reason to write that kind of check back in December.

For as much as Gurley continued to be the straw that stirred the drink in L.A. for the first 15 games of 2018, he was replaced seamlessly by C.J. Anderson following what has since been deemed to be a knee injury to Gurley.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Steelers draft picks set after NFL omits them from list of compensatory picks

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Don’t look now, but the NFL draft is only nine weeks away. And now the Pittsburgh Steelers officially know exactly at which spots they will be selecting.

With the league’s release of awarded compensatory picks Friday – the Steelers did not receive any picks – the final order of selection is known for the April 25-27 draft in Nashville, Tenn.

After having the best record of any team that missed the playoffs last season at 9-6-1, the Steelers are slotted to pick 20th in the first round. Generally, that would have the Steelers picking at the 20th slot in each round of the draft, but several factors — such as compensatory picks and forfeited picks from the supplemental draft — can amend that.

Trades, of course, can alter draft order, too. The Steelers made three such deals in the past that affect where they will pick on Day 3 of the draft. They swapped their fifth-round pick for the Oakland Raiders’ sixth-round pick to acquire Ryan Switzer last August. They picked up a seventh-round pick as part of the 2017 J.J. Wilcox deal, and they surrendered a seventh-round pick as part of the Sammie Coates trade to Cleveland in 2017.

In the end, the Steelers have one selection in every round except for the fifth (none) and sixth (two). From where they’d be picking, if there were no trades, they dropped 17 spots as the result of the Switzer trade and gained a net 15 spots when the Wilcox and Coates deals are accounted for.

The New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins were the biggest beneficiaries of this season’s compensatory-pick allotment, with four picks each. To determine which teams get which picks, the league uses a complicated formula that takes into account free agents (from the year before) lost versus those gained, accounting for the size of the contracts awarded to each.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Not only can you watch the NFL combine – you can bet on it, too

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

There was a time not too long ago that the thought of the general public watching the NFL combine would have been considered absurd. But for more than a decade, it’s been among the most-watched programming on NFL Network annually.

But not only can the general public and football fans the world over watch live video of young 20-something men run sprints and lift weights – people can wager on it, too.

BetOnline.AG claims they have been taking action on the combine for two decades. The site released its first props for the 2019 event that will be staged next week in Indianapolis.

Among the most interesting bets is fastest 40-yard dash time run by anyone (over/under 4.29 seconds), highest vertical jump (over/under 43.5 inches) and most reps of 225-pound bench presses (over/under 40).

There’s competitions between position groups you can wager on: who will the fastest 40 time come from – a running back (+175), wide receiver (+125) or defensive back (the favorite at an even-money +100).

Then, there are bets on high-profile individual players such as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray (over/under 40 time of 4.37 seconds) and Stanford running back Bryce Love (over/under 40 time of 4.38 seconds).

Of local interest is Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (over/under 40 time of 4.65 seconds).

Then, there is the annual for-charity 40-yard dash run by NFL Network host Rich Eisen. BetOnline.AG sets the bar for Eisen at 6.02 seconds.