Le’Veon Bell would stand to make $12.1MM guaranteed if he and the Steelers weren’t able to come to terms by Monday afternoon. While Bell’s camp is surely asking for a deal north of the $10MM-per-year range due to this tag number, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks could see LeSean McCoy‘s $8MM-per-year agreement could remain the standard for backs. The damage players incur at this position limiting their shelf lives, along with the marginalization that’s impacted this job, makes Brooks wonder if any back is worth that much money under the current cap. An AFC executive, though, mentioned Bell, David Johnson and possibly Ezekiel Elliott as backs worth a major second contract.
“In today’s game, the running back has to be able to contribute as a runner, receiver and blocker to be a viewed as a marquee player,” the exec said, via Brooks. “Johnson, Bell and maybe (Ezekiel) Elliott are the ideal guys to man the RB1 spot because they are big backs with the size and speed to run between the tackles or on the edges, but they are also capable of being a big part of the game from anywhere in the formation (backfield, slot or out wide).”
Johnson is coming off a meniscus injury, while Bell tore his MCL in 2015 to further illustrate how tenuous these players’ windows for dominance can be. Johnson is also two months older than Bell but two NFL seasons behind him, so Bell might have a better chance of cashing in since Johnson will turn 27 at the end of his rookie deal. But Bruce Arians recently said his breakout running back doesn’t have a ceiling, indicating the Cardinals might opt to keep him long-term once he’s extension-eligible after this season.
Here’s the latest from around the league.
- The Broncos and GM John Elway‘s negotiations heated up this week, and Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post notes the team wants to richly reward the exec for his contributions during what’s been one of the franchise’s best stretches in its 57-season history. But the longtime columnist writes the unfortunate battle with Alzheimer’s Pat Bowlen’s encountered makes the Broncos harder to assess from a longer-term perspective, attempting to explain the slowed process for an Elway re-up.
- A decision-making presence the Broncos once extended (before firing him), John Fox is on a hot seat at his most recent job, Michael Rothstein and Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com write. Fox having gone 9-23 in two Bears seasons puts the veteran sideline bastion in danger of being fired for a third time, provided the Bears don’t push for the playoffs, per Dickerson. The writer notes chairman George McCaskey’s lack of patience might lead to another change. Dickerson adds third-year GM Ryan Pace should join Fox on the hot seat, but he’s likely to be safer than the coach is.
- Cornelius Washington ventured from the Bears to the Lions in part because of Detroit’s attacking 4-3 scheme as opposed to the 3-4 currently being deployed in Chicago, Tim Twentyman of Lions.com notes. Washington will be a part of the Lions’ rotation up front, with Twentyman predicting the former Bears backup will have a good chance to rush from the tackle spot on passing downs.