The Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell had a chance to get a long-term deal done, and after reports swirled of the deal offered to the All-Pro running back fans were curious just what Bell wanted.
Was it more guaranteed money?
Was it a longer contract?
Try being paid not only as a top running back in the NFL, but also as a No. 2 wide receiver for the black and gold.
Ike Taylor on @NFLTotalAccess says Le'Veon Bell told him he wants to be paid as No. 1 RB PLUS a No. 2 WR (his 75 rec were 2nd most for PIT)— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 19, 2017
Before fans question the validity of Ike Taylor’s reporting, if there is someone who isn’t a current member of the team and still has a finger on the pulse of the Steelers, it would be Taylor.
With that said, Bell has some legitimacy to his overall desire to be paid not only as a top running back in the game, but also the team’s second-best wide receiver. And when you look at the numbers, he certainly has a point to make in this regard.
As mentioned in the tweet above, Bell’s 75 receptions in 2016 were second-best on the team, but that was when the Steelers were lacking a genuine No. 2 wide receiver, mainly due to Martavis Bryant’s year-long suspension. To go back and figure out how many receptions Bell caught with Bryant in the lineup, you have to go back to 2014, as Bell was lost for the year in 2015 around the mid-season point (with 24 receptions at that moment). In 2014, Bell had 83 receptions, second on the team again, with Bryant just starting to come into his own with 26 receptions.
Should Bell be compensated for his versatility and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield? Absolutely, but is that a large reason why he is expecting $15 million dollars a season? I doubt the Steelers think that is a legitimate line of thinking when it comes to contract negotiations.
Throughout this saga, which isn’t going away anytime soon, the fact Bell has never played in a full NFL season, and has been suspended twice, should, and could, play a role in the contract negotiations. Is Bell as dynamic and versatile as they come? You know it, but it isn’t as if the Steelers don’t have any chips on their side of the table too.
Assuming the Steelers don’t rescind Bell’s franchise tag, and he plays in 2017, there will have to be some give-and-take on both sides of the table for Bell to get the long-term contract he wants, or else he will be either franchise tagged for a second straight year, or playing in a different uniform in 2018.
Here is a video of Taylor’s comments on NFL Network on the Bell contract situation.