Steelers star RB Le’Veon Bell has yet to sign his franchise tender, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if the club would consider rescinding the tender, just as the Panthers did with Josh Norman last year. The closer we get to training camp, the more difficult it would be for Bell land a contract on the open market that pays him even $10MM in 2017, much less the $12.1MM he stands to receive under the franchise tender, and if Pittsburgh were to rescind the tender late in the summer, Bell’s financial prospects would only worsen. In the meantime, the Steelers’ other backs will get ample opportunity to prove their worth, and Florio speculates that Pittsburgh could decide to save millions by severing ties with Bell if its other options could combine to approximate Bell’s production.
But given that the rest of the Steelers’ RB corps features the likes of Knile Davis, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and rookie James Conner, that notion seems almost laughable. Even if the Steelers were considering rescinding the tender, it’s not surprising that there have been no reports about it, as such decisions are made and executed swiftly to avoid the possibility that the player will catch wind of it and pounce on the tender. Nonetheless, if Bell is not lined up behind Ben Roethlisberger on Week 1 (assuming he’s not injured or suspended), it would be the surprise of the season.
Now for more from the AFC:
- Speaking of Davis, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Arkansas product, whom the Steelers signed as a free agent this offseason, has a good chance of landing the team’s No. 3 RB spot behind Bell and Conner. Third-string backs have been important players for Pittsburgh in recent years, and Davis’ experience returning kickoffs could give him the edge over Toussaint.
- New Jets OC John Morton, unlike his predecessor, Chan Gailey, utilizes two-back sets, and the only fullbacks currently on New York’s roster are the unproven Julian Howsare and undrafted rookie Anthony Firkser. As such, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes the team could add a fullback like Zach Line, whom the team expressed interest in earlier this offseason, in the near future.
- Darryl Slater of NJ.com says Jets QB Christian Hackenberg has shown some progress in OTAs, though he is still struggling with accuracy and turnovers. If the team can get him some game action, and if he flashes some potential, Slater believes the Jets may refrain from drafting a QB in 2018. If not, look for Gang Green to use another early selection on a signal-caller next year.
- Broncos rookie QB Chad Kelly, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, is close to getting back on the field, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Kelly is coming off an injury to his right throwing wrist and his second ACL operation on his right knee, and while the Ole Miss product likely wouldn’t have been a factor in Denver’s QB competition this year anyway, he could have a legitimate chance at the job in 2018 or 2019.
- Texans rookie Deante’ Gray, who signed with the club as a UDFA last month and who has a chance of cracking the back end of Houston’s WR corps, is expected to be out until training camp with a Grade 2 partially torn hamstring, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes.
- Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union compares the career trajectory of Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, who is entering his contract year, with that of Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey, who recently signed a four-year, $38MM extension with Cleveland. The two players, who were both drafted in 2014, have similar numbers through this point in their careers, so O’Halloran suggests that Kirksey’s deal will be a good foundation for a new Smith contract if the Jags are open to extending Smith before the season starts.