Community Tailgate: Le’Veon Bell

Nothing’s transpired on the Le’Veon Bell front going into the Steelers’ Week 3 game, continuing one of the most unique sagas in modern NFL history.

Steelers brass bracing for a lengthy Bell absence looks accurate at this point, with no near-future debut date in sight for the two-time All-Pro running back. Rather than angle for more money in his Steelers walk year, Bell is taking a self-preservation stance in avoiding as much punishment as possible in hopes of securing a landmark free agency accord as a result.

But is he making the right decision? Bell will have lost out on more than $2.5MM by the end of Week 3 and stands to lose out on millions more if he pushes the holdout to the Week 10 deadline.

The Steelers placed the ball in his court. They aren’t going to rescind his franchise tag. They don’t plan to trade him, which would essentially place another team in their predicament as the employer of a rental player, and will not set a precedent of enhancing his prorated franchise tag number (once set at $14.5MM).

For now, probably the second-best player on a team that entered the season with the second-best odds at an AFC title is out of the picture despite being presumably healthy. Meanwhile, the Steelers are struggling at 0-1-1. While they aren’t exactly in must-win territory just yet, that time may be fast approaching. But the traditional organization caving to Bell by authorizing any kind of raise seems highly unlikely. And James Conner fared well in Week 1, when Pittsburgh’s game script was not thrust into the pass-heavy mode Week 2 required.

Bell’s banking on recouping the funds he’s currently losing, and then some, with major guaranteed money (which didn’t appear to be on the table from the Steelers, though reports vary on what guarantees were offered in July) come March.

He will be a coveted commodity as a free agent, but at 27 (in February) and with high mileage on his odometer regardless of when he resumes his Steelers career, can Bell expect to land a Todd Gurley– or David Johnson-level contract? Gurley signed his near-$15MM-per-year/$45MM guaranteed megadeal when he had 786 career carries. Johnson inked his three-year, $39MM accord with 429 career totes. Bell will begin his 2018 season with 1,229. That’s a substantial difference from not only his high-dollar ball-carrying peers but from backs who comprised recent free agent contingents. Teams could be leery of Bell slowing down in his late 20s as a result.

Some execs are not viewing the sixth-year player’s holdout as a smart move for his future. But then again, he’s going to draw interest because of his past production. And he’s obviously less likely to suffer an injury while away from the Steelers than playing in games. Although, Bell already has a serious knee injury on his NFL medical sheet — an MCL tear in 2015. The old-school workloads the Steelers gave him during his years as their starter, in addition to his past with injuries (which also includes maladies in the 2014 and ’16 playoffs), will Bell get what he wants come March?

Can these circumstances reach one-year, prove-it deal proportions? Or will Bell cash in due to some teams — headlined by the Colts and Jets — holding cap space and a lack of backfield options on his level? And how will this holdout affect his stock when it does come time to hit the market? What effect does this have on the Steelers’ 2018 hopes? Weigh in on this issue in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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28 comments on “Community Tailgate: Le’Veon Bell

  1. crosseyedlemon

    “Bell’s banking on recouping the funds he’s currently losing, and then some, with major guaranteed money.”

    His fall back plan is to work overtime at Dairy Queen until he reaches the age of 125.

    • Clark K

      If you’re gonna troll be good at it, he obviously doesn’t need the money or else he’d be playing, he’s set for life. As for you, you might have to work at Dairy Queen until you reach 125 idk.

      • bigjonliljon

        How do you know that. Yes he’s collected a lot of money. But how much is gone already

    • Clark K

      WHAT IS YOUR OBSESSION WITH WEED? Every post I see you comment it’s about weed . It’s annoying and not at all funny

    • tsolid

      He’s an idiot, redneck named mandman from TX tWhat do you expect from him?

  2. RockHauler

    He’s a 28 year old RB that has averaged over 300 touches a year, far more than the average RB. Which means he’s about to start breaking down from all the hits he’s taken. So he wants a long term high annual valued contract which will run into his mid 30’s. When the backs he’s comparing himself to are 5 years younger than him. Not a good move on his part, especially with Connor running the ball well.
    NFL has to change the rule that he can come in in week 11 and still get credit for the season. Really? Missing over 2/3 of the season is enough to get full credit for the season? Plus can you imagine the reception the O-line will give him?

  3. sportsfan101

    Trade him plain n simple, Connor is playing better then anyone could expect behind bell, he obv won’t resign, get the best offer you can now before your too deep into the season to land a first rounder. As greedy as bell is pitt is just as stupid.

    • tsolid

      Connor plays well that great. Teams would LOVE to let Conner play great while the game plan to stop Brown. It’s a win for defenses. What most people can’t see is that when Bell is in the game teams have to game plan to stop him, so it’s easier for Brown to flourish. Also, they’ll let JuJu keep beating beating them underneath all day.

  4. Clark K

    I know a lot of people are gonna disagree but if anything the first 2 weeks have given Bell even more leverage the Steelers have looked like a top 10 pick team without him. Either pay the man, or trade him and start your rebuild.

    • Kenleyfornia74

      Yeah there is no way they are winning 2-3 AFC playoff games. Their window is shut

      • louwhitakerisahofer

        They’re window has been shut the whole time Bell has been there. Selfish play will never beat the Patriots Way. And that’s my thought as a Steelers fan. Not giving up hope, but the future is bleak.

        • sigdawg25

          u mean a Tomlin team will never beat NE. I’ve been a Steeler fan for 45 years and this coach and this team frustrates me.

    • RockHauler

      The reason the Steelers have looked average is because they are an older team. AB is 30, Ben is 37, the offensive line is getting up there, and their secondary and linbacking corps are not that talented.
      One writer had it right, look to trade Bell and use it to try and restock the team. Otherwise he’s walking at the end of the year and the team will only get a compensation pick at the end of the 3rd round, if they don’t sign any high profile free agents themselves.

  5. Thomas Brunette

    When Bell finally reports, can the Steelers not activate him on the active roster?

    • RockHauler

      That’s always an option, but he’ll still be paid and he’ll still accrue the time to make this season count.

      • bigjonliljon

        Is there a way to not all w him to acquire service time once he returns?

  6. Armaday

    If they trade him, can he sign a long term deal with the new team. Why would a team trade for him if he may continue to sit and not be able to resign him.
    Example: Let’s say the Jets offered Pittsburgh B. Powell and a first or third rounder, can they sign him now to an extension?

  7. TheBlueMeanie

    Could someone pull out the stick that seems to be lodged firmly in Clark K’s ass?

  8. As a high carry mid-career running back, Bell has great precedent on sitting out a season (he has to come back in week 11 unfortunately as otherwise he’s not free of the Steelers).

    John Riggins sat out a season in 1980 and came back to lead the NFL in touchdowns a couple of times and almost single handedly win Super Bowl XVII.

    A running back’s body gets fatigued – a long period of time off only does the man good (up to 1.5 years, after that of course the edge dulls). This is counting on Bell staying active. Haven’t heard anything about Bell hanging out in the projects free-basing with hookers and eating McDonalds and Burger King so he probably is staying fit (he knows he has to play games 11 to 16 – Steelers won’t be going to the playoffs this season with this much dissension and Big Ben so on/off his game).

    If the Steelers maliciously injure him in practice or encourage it in game time, he should look at a lawsuit for the full $50 million.

    The NFL contract and free agency system is broken. It’s hurting both teams and players. Reform is extremely complex as long as there’s a salary cap.

    • bigjonliljon

      I have seen pictures of him partying it up in Miami. He’s gained weight

      • theeterps

        How has no one else been talking about it? I completely agree. He looks very chunky.

  9. carlos15

    What happens if he holds out until week 10 and then comes back in time to be a free agent but the Steelers rescind the tag at that point and he has no where to play? Presumably he’d be a free agent at that point but that would a difficult position to be thrown into at week 10.

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