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Kevin Colbert’s confidence in contract negotiations with Le’Veon Bell is laughable

The Steelers’ General Manager spoke with media at the NFL owners meetings, and sometimes toeing the company line can sound outlandish.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

I get it. I really do.

There are times in everyone’s lives when you have to say something you don’t really mean. This happens more for some than others, but when Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert met with media at the NFL Owners Meetings in Florida, his comments about contract negotiations with Le’Veon Bell were par for the course.

When he was asked if the door was still open for a long-term contract to get done, his response was simple.

“I think so.”

So, what happened to the two parties being closer than they were last year? What happened to the team offering more than the previous offer which was rejected?

Apparently, free agency happened.

“At this point, after we tagged Le’Veon, we move into other matters of free agency,” said Colbert to the team’s official website. “We (also) continue with draft preparation, so it’s really not anything we’re choosing to ignore, its just the circumstances of other things that need to taken care of at the moment. Free agency takes precedence, but we’re also trying to keep up with our draft operation as well.”

With Bell’s contract put on the back burner, what exactly should fans expect this offseason if/when contract negotiations ever get started up again?

“I mean we are where we are,” Colbert added. “We’re not intentionally ignoring that. It’s just that more urgent business needs to be taken care of, and again, we’ll reassess where that is. We’re going to reassess where his interests are as well. Again, I anticipate us continuing that process once it gets through the free agency period, and maybe even through the draft, because the draft can change things on both sides.”

To recap: The two sides have stopped negotiations throughout the rest of free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft.

Anyone still believe a deal will get done between Bell and the Steelers?

If you just said yes, please let me know what beverage you are enjoying so I may partake with you. I understand there is still a chance the team and Bell come to terms, but I would call such a deal getting done a long shot.

Look, Colbert has to say these things. What would it sound like if he told the media the two sides weren’t close and there is no way a deal could get done. It would simply be bad business. At the same time, fans should be able to read between the lines of Colbert’s comments.

“The draft can change things on both sides...”

When asked if the team would ever rescind Bell’s franchise tag:

“I would never remove anything from possibility. Is it a probability? No.”

These are comments from a man who realizes the best offer the Steelers can put on the table won’t likely be good enough to keep Le’Veon Bell in black-and-gold. In other words, you pay Bell the $14.5 million for the 2018 season, and wish him well in free agency the following year.

As my co-host of the BTSC flagship podcast “The Standard is the Standard” Lance Williams stated regarding this situation — this is like two parents who are doomed for divorce, but are staying together one more year for the kids. After that, see ya later!

Just to clarify, I love Le’Veon Bell. His running style, and overall ability, is of the mind-blowing variety. On the field, he is the best. Off the field he leaves a lot to be desired, but I would want nothing more than to see No. 26 in black-and-gold until the day comes where he steps away to move onto his life’s work.

But at the same time, I realize no fan should have any type of confidence in these two sides getting a deal done. It simply isn’t going to happen. If it does, I would be glad to eat crow here on this fine website, but at the same time I don’t think it will come down to this.

At this point, the best advice I can give is for everyone to enjoy Bell one more year before he shoves off in free agency.