With Le’Veon Bell demanding $17MM per year, less than three weeks could remain for Steelers fans to view the All-Pro running back as a long-term asset. Following the July 16 franchise tag deadline, Bell could be headed toward rental status this season and 2019 free agency. The Steelers are not about to authorize a $17MM-AAV deal for Bell, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, adding that the only chance of an extension being hammered out is if Bell comes off that price. Judging by the lack of communication between the parties since their pre-draft re-up talks, Zeise notes it’s clear the Steelers are going to hold their line. Bell is optimistic about a deal, but Zeise notes he appears to be the only one. The Steelers may not be able to replace Bell, but the gap between he and either James Conner (or a future successor) may not translate to Pittsburgh paying its running back what he wants. Bell’s $17MM-per-year price is more than twice what current running back salary leader Devonta Freeman makes.
Here’s the latest from Pittsburgh and other AFC North cities.
- The Steelers do not believe Morgan Burnett is the same player he was at his Packers apex, and they don’t plan on asking him to perform like it, according to Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Keith Butler is planning for the 29-year-old safety to assume some of the responsibility Ryan Shazier used to, working as a quality run-stopper and patrolling the middle of the field on passing downs. However, the plan is for Burnett to play strong safety and for the likes of Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds to have deep-middle responsibilities at free safety, per Benz. Edmunds played a hybrid-type role late in his Virginia Tech career, which would appear to overlap with Burnett’s job description, but it appears the Steelers are confident the first-rounder will be able to grow into a true free safety.
- It’s going to take a sizable Browns improvement for Hue Jackson to keep his job, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com said (video link), adding that the third-year HC knows this. Cabot envisions a major Browns step forward this season and does expect Jackson, 1-31 Cleveland record notwithstanding, to keep his job for 2019. She estimates six wins may be enough to convince John Dorsey to retain Jackson. The Browns have won six games just once in the past 10 years.
- The Ravens have moved 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa around a bit since he entered the league. Beginning his career at outside linebacker, the Boise State product was shuttled to an inside spot in 2017. However, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun notes Correa’s been moved back to the outside this offseason. Correa recorded 19 sacks during his final two college seasons but has yet to register one as a pro. He’ll be in the mix as one of Terrell Suggs‘ supporting-casters this year, it appears.