It is July, which means football is right around the corner. July 27th the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe, PA for another training camp. Although we still have a few weeks of the “dog days” of the NFL offseason, it doesn’t mean there isn’t news to still be discussed.
We take you around the world wide web to give you your daily dose of black and gold, along with making BTSC your one-stop-shop for all things Steelers.
The Steelers have until 4 p.m. Monday to get a long-term deal done with Le’Veon Bell. If that deadline passes, the franchise tag designation will stick, and Bell will make $12.12 million this season.
The Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo wrote about the intricacies of the situation earlier this week. Bell’s situation isn’t unique as teams designate players with the franchise tag to try and buy more time for negotiations every season.
That article points out that, for the most part, players designated with the franchise tag work out long-term deals right at the deadline. That would suggest the suspense will mount all weekend and then right about 3:55 p.m. Monday, the Steelers will announce they have reached a long-term deal with Bell.
Let’s hope that is not the case.
The Steelers should not make Bell the highest paid running back in the league. They should not sign him to a long-term deal. They should not move an inch from their current position that he is on a one-year deal.
Bell is 25 years old and has played four seasons in the NFL. He is a young man in the real world, but in the world of NFL running backs, he is already becoming an old man. The average career of an NFL running back is only 3.1 years.
The larger issue is Bell has been a featured back his entire career. He has averaged 226 carries over his four seasons. That is 908 carries. Add to that his 227 receptions, and that is a lot of mileage and hits on a body.
Adrian Peterson has bucked the odds and remained productive despite the wear and tear on his body. But he is the exception to the rule. ESPN.com did a study two years ago and found that a running back’s peak production will take place before his 27th birthday. After that, there is a sharp decline.
Bell will be 26 next February. That suggests he may only have two seasons — this one and next — as one of the top running backs in the NFL. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, obviously, but there is a lot of data to back up the point.
That doesn’t even take into account the fact that Bell has been injury-prone throughout his career and has played in all 16 games only once.
He has also been suspended twice for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Maybe he’s put that behind him and it won’t ever be an issue again. But that is a pretty big risk to take....
A Steelers spokesman said Thursday that Miami Air International will provide charter flights for the team this season, but the Steelers are continuing to “look for options in the future years.”
In April, American Airlines announced it was suspending charter flights for six NFL teams, including the Steelers.
Miami Air also provides charter flights for the Penguins. The Pirates have used United Airlines for the past three years.
“We are confident this won’t affect our travel for away games this year,” spokesman Burt Lauten said in an email.
“After careful evaluation, we are reducing the number of charter operations for 2017 to ensure we have the right aircraft available for our passenger operation,” American spokeswoman Lakeesha Brown told Forbes in April.
American is continuing its partnership with only three teams — the Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles. All three are based in major hub cities, with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport serving as American’s headquarters.
American said it dropped the teams due to a lack of resources.
“For those of you who worked these teams, we share your disappointment,” an American Airlines memo reportedly said. “We hope to have the opportunity to support these teams in the future should resources become more readily available.”
ESPN’s “Sportscenter on the Road” will make a stop at the Steelers’ annual nighttime training camp practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium, the team announced Wednesday.
Network personalities Scott Van Pelt, Sal Paolantonio and former Steeler Ryan Clark will be on hand with live interviews and reports when the session gets underway at 7 p.m. Aug. 4. It will be the second consecutive year the show has originated from the nighttime practice.
Additionally, “Steelers Fest” will be held outside the stadium from noon until 6 p.m. that day. Former Steelers Mike Logan and Louis Lipps will be on hand to sign autographs, and fans can get pictures with the team’s six Super Bowl trophies. Food and free games will also be on site.