With the franchise tag extension deadline in the rear view mirror, Le’Veon Bell is set to play out the season on a one-year, $12.12MM deal. Here’s the latest on the Steelers and their star running back:
- Bell says he’s taking it upon himself to push the market for running backs. “It’s a little frustrating, but it’s a business,” Bell said of this round of negotiations (via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler). “I’m not in a rush to sign for something I’m not valued at if I feel I’m worth more than what they are offering me. … The running back market definitely took a hit, and I can’t be the guy who continues to let it take a hit. We do everything: We block, we run, we catch the ball. Our value isn’t where it needs to be. I’m taking it upon myself to open up some eyes and show the position is more valuable.”
- Any absence by Bell gives his backup more playing time and that could theoretically cause problems for him, Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. That wasn’t a concern with veteran DeAngelo Williams as his backup, but if Bell misses time it will crack the door open for rookie James Conner. The Steelers also improved their receiving corps with the addition of wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, so the two rookies could theoretically fill in for Bell’s rushing and pass catching. At the same time, it’s hard to see the rookies combining to match Bell’s production.
- Now that Bell’s contract cannot be addressed until after the season, the Steelers would like to do long term deals with defensive end Stephon Tuitt and linebacker Ryan Shazier, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com tweets. She also notes that left tackle Alejandro Villanueva remains unsigned. Villanueva has not signed his Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender with the hope that he will be offered a more lucrative deal.