We learned yesterday that the Steelers final offer to running back Le’Veon Bell was worth $70MM over five years. While that deal is plenty lucrative, it may not have been as good as it sounded. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the deal only contained $10MM in guaranteed money. Similar to last season’s offer, Bell would have made $33MM over the first two years “in a rolling guaranteed structure.” This number would have been increased to $45MM over three years.
As Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com points out (via Twitter), the deal would have been “virtually identical to the cash flows of the last contract.” The boosts in value would have been based on the increase in value of the running back franchise tag.
There’s been plenty of news pertaining to Bell and the Steelers over the past few days, which naturally led to a number of reactions and observations. We compiled all of the relevant notes below:
- While reports indicated that the Steelers had offered Bell the $70MM contract, Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, seemed to imply that that wasn’t actually the case. In fact, he seemingly backed the above report that the deal didn’t include much guaranteed money. “I am certainly not saying that what has been reported is accurate because it’s not quite frankly,” Bakari said (via SiriusXM NFL Radio on Twitter). “The most important element is the guarantee.”
- Yesterday, Bakari said this will likely be his client’s final season in Pittsburgh. If Bell does end up going elsewhere, he’ll be the eighth player since 2013 to leave his team after being tagged (via Rapoport on Twitter). The list of players includes quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Greg Hardy, offensive guard Branden Albert, defensive end Michael Johnson, and defensive tackle Henry Melton. Rapoport did not include cornerback Josh Norman nor tight end Jimmy Graham, who both had unique defections after inking the franchise tag.
- Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that neither the Steelers nor Bell’s camp are to blame for the lack of a long-term deal. The writer understands that the organization isn’t in a hurry to pay a running back more than $14.5MM per season. On the flip side, Kaboly believes Bell has established himself as one of the best players at his position, and he deserves to have a contract that matches his standing.
- Could the Steelers end up rescinding Bell’s one-year, $14.5MM franchise tender? While it’s unlikely, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com explains that it’s a possibility. The writer opines that the organization may not want to pay that kind of money to a player who will only be with the organization for one more season, especially if Bell decides to sit out regular season games. Plus, the Steelers seem to have a solid backup plan in James Conner, and they could also choose to pursue any of the available running backs still sitting on the market (a grouping that includes Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, or the recently-retired DeMarco Murray).
- Fitzgerald took a look at the current “plight of the running back,” noting that Bell and his peers can’t expect to earn the same kind of money that running backs earned five or six years ago. Ultimately, even if Bell does somehow manage to snag a record-breaking contract, Fitzgerald doesn’t believe it will have a lasting impact on the running back market.