The Pittsburgh Steelers, and Le’Veon Bell, had to be watching the Minnesota Vikings’ decision on Adrian Peterson closely. Peterson, the NFL’s highest paid running back heading into Tuesday, was due $17 million dollars if the team decided to pick up the option on his current contract.
The team didn’t, and although they say they will welcome Peterson back to the Vikings, financial details was certainly a motivator.
So, how does this have an impact on Bell and the Steelers?
Well, with Bell already been given the team’s franchise tag, he is far and away the highest paid running back in the league with his $12 million dollar one-year deal. And don’t think that simple fact doesn’t matter.
Teammate Antonio Brown is already the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL, and to stake claim to the “highest paid” at your position means something to today’s athletes. Gone are the days of players taking hometown discounts to keep the organization functional and happy.
Players want to break the bank, and it is tough to blame them. All of these athletes are one play away from having their career ended by a hit to the knee or severe trauma to the body. You have to get while the gettin’ is good, and Bell will certainly be looking for a new contract sooner or later.
After Bell, regarding average money per season, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is next making $8 million a year, and Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin behind McCoy just north of $7 million a year. In other words, the Steelers can make Bell the highest paid running back in the game, while decreasing his 2017 salary cap hit. Give him $9 million a year and he is still making one million more than the next back on the list in McCoy.
While Peterson’s release helps the Steelers give Bell the much desired “highest paid” tag behind his name, it does nothing for the other specifics of the contract.
How long should the contract be?
Do you have an option on the tail end of the contract like Minnesota did with Peterson?
How much weight do you put into Bell’s off-field and injury issues?
All those questions will need to be answered, and the two parties will have to come to an agreement or else Bell will be playing on an inflated one-year contract.
Some like the thought of Bell being put in a “show me” situation with a one-year contract, wanting to see the talented back play 16 games, and more, for the first time in his young career.
However, most would agree if the team can lock up Bell for the long-term, even if just a 3-4 year deal, it would be the best decision for the team. Give Bell what he is owed, keep him the highest paid back in the league, and give yourself the talent at running back who will give the team the best chance to win it all in 2017 and beyond.