As if you didn’t hear, the Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to reach a long-term contract with All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell, and with this news becoming official on Monday at 4 p.m. ET, the team can now turn their attention elsewhere.
Mike Tomlin always says one man’s misfortune can be an opportunity for another, and this mantra can be carried over into the area of contracts. With the team not able to sign Bell to a big contract, the team can now turn their attention to other players on the team who may be deserving of a new deal, and who may get that opportunity now that Bell is forced to play 2017 on a one-year $12 million dollar deal.
Here are players who the team could try to sign to a long-term deal before the start of the season, which is when the Steelers stop negotiating any type of contract with players.
Alejandro Villanueva — OT
The former Army Ranger will be making a whopping $670 thousand dollars in 2017 if he signs his Restricted Free Agent tender. That’s right, the man he will be blocking for in the running game will be making $12 million in 2017, but Villanueva will hardly be making a game check of Bell’s for an entire year of service. There is a lot for Villanueva to be upset about, but you wouldn’t know it as he didn’t miss an Organized Team Activity (OTAs) session, or any mandatory minicamp workouts.
Expect this deal to get done.
Stephon Tuitt — DE
The Notre Dame product, and 2nd round pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The team won’t have control over him next year, like they do of Ryan Shazier with his 5th year option, and getting the other book end defensive end in the 3-4 defensive scheme locked up will be a huge priority this offseason. Could they let 2017 play out and hope to sign Tuitt before the start of free agency in 2018? Absolutely, but it could be risky business.
There is a good chance this deal gets done, but it has to be at the right price. Not so sure that is something which will actually happen.
Chris Boswell — K
The Steelers fell over another solid kicker, again, in their franchise history. When Jeff Reed won a try out, he turned into Mr. Reliable. Now, when the Josh Scobee experiment went awry, Boswell stepped in and has become a huge asset to the team. He is playing under a one-year contract in 2017, and you don’t miss a quality kicker until you don’t have one. The Steelers know what that is like with Mr. Scobee, so give Boswell a solid contract to keep him in the black and gold for at least three more seasons.
I see this deal getting done before the regular season starts.
Chris Hubbard — OT
Some might discount Hubbard’s role on the team, especially with Jerald Hawkins emerging as the next swing tackle of the offensive line, but Hubbard can play almost every position along the offensive line. He can play guard, which he is most suited for, as well as tackle, which he proved he can do after 2016. Hubbard, like Villanueva, is playing 2017 for cheap, and the Steelers could keep him around for another 2 years for just a few million bucks.
However, of all the players who could get a new deal, Hubbard would be the low man on the list, and I doubt this deal gets done. If it gets done it will most likely happen after 2017.