Look at the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. They have the blue print of what a Super Bowl team roster should resemble. The Eagles have a surplus of front 7 defenders that are extremely talented, and 4 serviceable defensive backs. On offense, they built an elite offensive line, drafted a top-tier quarterback and brought in a great back-up, and they rotate 3 cost-effective backs. In total, the Eagles entire running back room costs less than $3 million dollars.
If you want to win a Super Bowl you must invest in a quarterback, people to protect said quarterback, and find players to get after the other team’s quarterback.
What does this all have to do with Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers? Until Bell officially signs his tender, which he said he won’t do until Week 1 at the earliest, the team can rescind his franchise tag tender and be off the hook for his $14.5 million dollar salary.
With that extra $14.5 million dollars, the Steelers could bring in veteran free agents to fill the holes in both the secondary and linebacker corps. Those moves would let the Steelers draft a running back within the first two rounds (think Derrius Guice) and allow the team to add depth throughout the rest of the draft.
Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett made a shade under $7 million dollars last year, and the 29-year-old would likely take a similar type deal, especially to a contender. The signing of Burnett would also make J.J. Wilcox and Mike Mitchell expendable, creating even more cap space.
At linebacker, the Steelers could bring in either 4-3 outside linebacker Nigel Bradham, or 3-4 inside linebacker Avery Williamson to fill the hole left by injured Ryan Shazier. Either player will command around $9 million per year.
What Le’Veon Bell wants is great for him, but not the Steelers.
Clearly, he’s rejected more than what the franchise tag is worth, and if an NFL team wants to invest 10-percent of their salary cap in a running back, I wish them good luck.
Le’Veon Bell’s stats also don't necessitate a contract worth $8 million more than the next highest back. His 4-yards per carry was not very inspiring. While he may have been second in the league for scrimmage yards, he also touched the ball way more than any other player in 2017 with 406 combined touches.
He wasn't even the best receiving back in the NFL a year ago. That honor went to New Orleans Saints rookie Alvin Kamara, who only had 7 fewer receptions then Bell but had 300 more yards and 3 more TD’s. All while splitting time in the backfield with Mark Ingram.
This is also leaving out the well-known facts of Bell already having his share of injuries and off-field issues.
The Steelers can’t be afraid of moving on from a player, no matter how popular they are. And while it likely won’t happen, them rescinding the franchise tag could be a very smart move for the team as a collective, and for the future of the franchise.