To tag, or not to tag. That is the question, at least for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I think it is safe to say there is no way the Steelers allow Le’Veon Bell to hit free agency. He is just too good to allow a team which a ridiculous amount of money to lure him away from the Steel City.
So, with that out of the way, will the Steelers place the franchise tag on Bell when teams can do so in a few short days? Or try to negotiate a long-term deal to keep him in the black and gold for years to come?
The past certainly will impact the future, and Bell’s history of injury and off-field suspensions can certainly impact value, length and overall worth of Bell’s next contract.
So, what should the Steelers do? In my opinion the answer is simple — both.
There is likely no way the team gets a new contract done with Bell before the start of free agency, March 9th, so the team should use the franchise tag to lock up Bell, and his services, for the minimum of the 2017-2018 season. However, the work shouldn’t stop there.
The franchise tag would pay Bell roughly $12 million dollars, but not if a deal can be done before the regular season begins. Once applying the tag, the Steelers can be patient with their next move. What should be on their radar is what the Minnesota Vikings do with their option on Adrian Peterson. If they don’t take the option, the overall value contract for a running back in the NFL will become attainable for Bell and the Steelers.
If this happens, the Steelers could make Bell the highest paid running back in the league, and keep him in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his prime. Nonetheless, there are some variables which should be noted. In other words, Bell needs to do his part in these proceedings.
First, back load the contract to help the Steelers sign other players this offseason. Second, make sure the duration of the contract is between 3-4 years. Lastly, Bell owes the Steelers a “solid” considering how they stuck by him through the injuries and off-field issues.
If the Steelers fall this simple guide of using the franchise tag as a band-aid to lock up Bell long-term, which I think they will, the team will be set at the RB position for years to come.
A lot to discuss, and I give my thoughts on what the Steelers should do, and my prediction on what they will do in the podcast player above. Simply click play to give the 10 minute show a listen.