There are times when you can understand why a player rejected a specific offer from their respective team. Teams often undercut, or undervalue, the player, and them rejecting the offer sends a very strong signal to the organization.
However, when the final offer the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly gave Le’Veon Bell, you would have to think this wasn’t one of those times where the rejected offer makes much sense.
Check out the reported offer by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
#Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell averaged over $12M per, with $30M in first 2 years, $42M over 3, per sources. Decided to play on $12.1M tag— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 18, 2017
He then followed up that tweet with the following:
#Steelers don't do guarantees in future years, so there's risk either way. But clearly Bell is betting on himself here.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 18, 2017
So, to sum things up, Bell was offered a deal which averaged $12 million dollars a year, $30 million to be delivered in the first two years, and $42 million over the first three years, and the deal was reportedly for 5-years.
And Bell decided to bet on himself with a one-year $12.1 million dollar franchise tender deal.
To be honest, the deal the Steelers offered was both longer, and wealthier, than I thought they would offer, and the fact Bell didn’t accept the offer makes one wonder what he was banking on getting in these negotiations. However, there are still questions, and one of those is how much money is guaranteed?
This is something Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk discussed in detail:
Most importantly, how much was fully guaranteed at signing? With a $12.1 million in guaranteed salary for 2017 and the promise of a 20-percent raise for 2018 under the tag, Bell should have been looking for $26.62 million fully guaranteed over the first two years. The Steelers, however, typically don’t fully guarantee money beyond year one. Without knowing the full guarantee from the moment Bell inked the deal, there’s no way to know whether he should have taken it.
Also, what’s the cash flow in year one? By simply saying he’d make $30 million in the first two years, the Steelers adroitly glossed over the key question of whether Bell would make $12.1 million this year, $26.62 million, or something in between that. Absent that detail, there’s no way to know the quality of the deal.
Finally, what’s the term of the deal? Ian Rapoport of NFL Media chimes in that it would have been a five-year contract. This means that Bell would have been swapping one year at $12.1 million for one year at whatever the offer would have paid this year (we still don’t know) plus a team-held option for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Numbers have been reported, deals have been turned away, and this is all a moot point now since the Steelers and Bell can’t go back to the negotiating table until the end of the 2017 season.