The timing might not have been the best, but Le’Veon Bell answered honestly when asked about his future contract, or lack thereof, with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Thursday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler asked Bell about his future with the team, his happiness with the game of football, and more. Throughout the interview, Bell was nothing but honest, and in this interview Bell talked about how dissatisfied he would be if the Steelers chose to franchise tag him for a second straight season.
Bell earned just over $12 million dollars this season playing under the franchise tag, and could make just north of $14 million next season if the team decides to use the exclusive franchise tag again.
The talented Steelers’ running back doesn’t want to hear any of that.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely consider it [retirement],” he told Fowler before Thursday’s practice.
What exactly is Bell looking for? The team to value him for what he truly is — a No. 1 running back, and a No. 2 wide receiver.
”Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell said. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
In regards of Bell possibly sitting out 2018 if the Steelers don’t give him a long-term contract, it could just mean the end of his career.
“It will eventually come down to me playing on the tag or not,” Bell said. “They tag me again, it will be me [saying], ‘OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?’ That’s what it comes down to. If I was a free agent and they let me go, be a free agent, then yeah, I’m going to go explore free agency, test the market.”
According to Bell, his life doesn’t revolve around money. He has earned a great deal, and he is comfortable in the life he lives if he chooses to walk away.
“I’ve made a lot of money, I’m happy where I’m at, I’ve got a good family -- I don’t really need to play football,” said Bell, who has made around $16 million for his career. “Right now, I’m just kind of doing it because I love it. Now, I’ve done everything but own a Super Bowl ...
”I don’t necessarily care about the money aspect of it. I just want to be valued where I’m at. If I am playing this game, I want to set standards for all the other running backs behind me, like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, guys like that. I’m a guy they can kind of look at. I feel I can do that. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do it.”
While most will consider this horrible timing, and could have been avoided, Bell did say he wants to end his career in Pittsburgh.
“I want to be here, finish my career here,” Bell said. “But if not, I’ll just handle it however I’ve got to handle it.”
Nothing like some contract talk in the media days before the team’s first playoff game of the season, right?