Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell Flaked On Steelers Deal?

We learned shortly after the franchise tender extension deadline that Le’Veon Bell turned down a lucrative contract offer from the Steelers. Apparently, things weren’t that cut and dry. On July 17, Steelers officials thought they had reached agreement with Bell’s agent on a five-year deal. However, at the last minute, Bell nixed the contract, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Meanwhile, agent Adisa Bakari says he and his client never had any agreement with the Steelers. “All stories to contrary are false,” he told ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

The deal would have given Bell more than $12MM annually on average and roughly $30MM across the first two years, Bouchette hears. According to previous reports, he would have seen ~$42MM over the first three seasons. Sources tell Bouchette that Bell said no because he is pushing for $15MM annually, a sum that he first demanded in a rap track recorded last year.

I’m not a real greedy guy. I don’t play football just for money or things like that. I just want to be valued — whether it’s $15 million or lower or higher, whatever it is,” Bell told ESPN after releasing his song. “I think we will get to an agreement eventually.”

Bell is slated to play out the year on the one-year, $12.12MM tender. He is currently staying away from the team, but it is expected that he will be back before the start of the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell will report to the Steelers before the regular season starts, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. However, it’s still unclear exactly when Bell will report to the team. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

[RELATED: Rams’ Aaron Donald Could Miss Games]

If Bell were to miss games, he would be forfeiting the prorated portion of his $12.12MM salary for 2017. That would be a major gamble for Bell, whereas Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald can afford to hold the line since he’s only making $3.225MM. All along, the Steelers have expected that Bell would show up before Week 1.

“Really, a holdout does not benefit him in any way,’’ GM Kevin Colbert said recently. “So, again, I hope that he sees the benefits of being here and comes in here sooner than later.” 

Prior to the franchise extension deadline, the Steelers offered Bell a five-year, $60MM deal with $30MM in the first two years of the contract and $42MM over the first three seasons. The pact would have reset the market at the running back position, but Bell presumably balked at the lack of true guarantees at signing.

The Steelers have the ability to franchise tag Bell again next offseason for roughly $14.5MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Luck, Landry, Bell

A recent report from a Denver radio station indicating that the Broncos are trying to trade for Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron is “150% false,” a source tells Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post (on Twitter). Denver GM John Elway also took to Twitter to firmly deny the story. The Broncos seem content to roll into the season with either Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian as the starter. Meanwhile, the asking price on McCarron has been outlandish in the past. The Bengals were said to be seeking a first round pick for him earlier this offseason.

More from the AFC:

  • “All indications” are that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will avoid opening the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, GM Chris Ballard informed Tom Pelissero of NFL.com on Wednesday (Twitter link). This isn’t the first time Ballard has expressed confidence on this issue, though a report last week suggested Luck’s shoulder could force him to begin the season on the PUP list. Either way, it’s up in the air whether Luck will play Indianapolis’ Week 1 tilt against the Rams, per Ballard.
  • The Dolphins and contract-year wide receiver Jarvis Landry still haven’t engaged in serious extension negotiations, and there’s a good chance he won’t get a new deal this year, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. By signing Jay Cutler, the Dolphins subtracted $10MM in carryover money from next year’s cap. That figure could increase to $13MM if Cutler hits his incentives this season. Cutler’s presence will make it more difficult for the Dolphins to lock up Landry, then, as will the fact that the wideout is under investigation for battery. Landry’s off-field situation doesn’t faze the Dolphins, suggests Salguero, though he nonetheless points out that it would be wiser to extend the slot target if and when he’s cleared of wrongdoing.
  • The Steelers expect running back Le’Veon Bell to end his holdout just before the regular season starts, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In the meantime, the franchise-tagged star isn’t helping himself by staying away from training camp, GM Kevin Colbert told Bouchette. “Really, a holdout does not benefit him in any way,’’ Colbert said. “So, again, I hope that he sees the benefits of being here and comes in here sooner than later.” Because Bell hasn’t signed his $12.12MM franchise tender, the Steelers can’t fine him for any missed practices or preseason games. Bell’s already set to miss their first preseason contest Friday, but Bouchette notes that head coach Mike Tomlin probably wouldn’t have played him anyway. In the unlikely event Bell’s holdout lasts into the regular season, Pittsburgh will be able to dock him one-17th of his $12.12MM salary (about $713K) for each week missed.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Browns

When the NFL handed Bengals cornerback Adam Jones a one-game suspension last week, it appeared he would fight the ban. That won’t be the case, though, Jones announced Thursday. “You know, I take all accountability for what I did and my actions and my words. I accept it — the one game suspension — and I’m ready to move on, man,” Jones told reporters, including Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 33-year-old’s suspension came after he was charged with three misdemeanors and a felony, though he was able to avoid jail time after pleading guilty to a lesser offense.

More from Cincinnati’s division…

  • Although the league conditionally reinstated Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant from a year-plus suspension in April, it still hasn’t cleared him to participate in training camp. General manager Kevin Colbert addressed the situation Thursday, stating: “Upon his conditional reinstatement in April, Martavis Bryant was made aware it was only the beginning of a process toward a return to being a full contributing member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We have been informed by the NFL that Martavis is still in the process of being fully reinstated. Until that time, Martavis will be permitted to take part in off-the-field team activities at training camp, but he will not be permitted to practice or play in any games.”
  • As expected, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did not show up at training camp Thursday, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com was among those to report. The franchise-tagged star has not signed his $12.12MM tender, meaning he’s under no obligation to attend camp. Bell could follow in the footsteps of Chiefs safety Eric Berry and not report until the regular season is on the verge of beginning. That’s what Berry did last summer when he was unhappy with the fact that he had to play the season under the tag in lieu of a multiyear contract.
  • Browns wide receiver Ricardo Louis has hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus to represent him, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (Twitter link). As a fourth-round rookie last year, Louis started in three of 16 appearances and logged 18 catches for 205 yards. With three years left on his rookie deal and unspectacular production to date, a pay raise isn’t imminent for Louis.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Garoppolo, Bell, Romo

In an effort to find out what the Patriots have in much-ballyhooed No. 2 quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com spoke with three scouts (two AFC, one NFC), an ex-Pats player and an NFC front office executive. The former Patriot offered effusive praise of the 25-year-old Garoppolo, saying of Tom Brady‘s backup: “I played against him every day in practice. He’s all that. He can make all the throws. He can process all the information. He is a gamer. He can slow it down. He can spin it. I’m going tell you this, if he had gotten traded to Cleveland, they’re a borderline playoff team. I really believe that.”

One of the AFC scouts was similarly kind to Garoppolo in his assessment, noting: “I absolutely loved the kid coming out of college. When we interviewed him, [it was obvious] he’s got those qualities you want in a QB, as a leader. I begged our guys to take him at the end of the first round. That’s how good I thought he was then. He’s a hell of a lot better now.” Garoppolo ended up going in the second round of the 2014 draft, and though he hasn’t played much since, the scout believes he’s a franchise QB in waiting and contends that it’s “genius” that the Patriots have refused to trade him.

With Brady showing no signs of slowing down even as he enters his age-40 campaign, Garoppolo probably won’t see the much field this year. Garoppolo’s contract will expire thereafter, which will make his situation an extremely compelling one to watch when the Patriots’ season concludes in either January or February. The Pats probably aren’t going to let the impending free agent leave, as head coach Bill Belichick “thinks he’s got the next great one,” according to the other AFC scout.

More from around the NFL:

  • In addition to detailing Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell‘s long-term asking price Wednesday on NFL Network, former teammate Ike Taylor said there’s a “strong possibility” Bell will hold out of training camp, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Given that Bell hasn’t signed his $12.1MM tender as the Steelers’ franchise player, he’s under no obligation to report and wouldn’t face any punishment by staying away. Bell could therefore take a cue from Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who was unhappy with his franchise designation last year and didn’t show up until the end of August.
  • Taylor noted Wednesday that Bell wants money that reflects his production as both a superstar runner and a No. 2 receiver. Bell confirmed as much Thursday, telling Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that he’s seeking a contract well in excess of Bills RB LeSean McCoy‘s league-high amount. “I make plays in the passing game, blocking, doing everything,” said Bell. “I’m arguably the top running back in the NFL and the No. 2 receiver on the Steelers, even though I play running back. Their career receiving total vs. mine, they don’t have more yards than me.” Prior to this past Monday’s deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals, the Steelers did attempt to ink Bell to a deal worth more than McCoy’s five-year, $40MM-plus pact. Their five-year, $60MM proposal didn’t get it done, though.
  • Cowboys third-round pick Jourdan Lewis career is off to an inauspicious start. Lewis, the 92nd overall selection, will go to trial in Michigan next week for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, reports Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today. That will keep Lewis out for the early portion of training camp, for which Cowboys rookies reported on Wednesday. Lewis’ charge stems from a March altercation with his live-in girlfriend, who told police that he put his “his hands around her neck.” The player pleaded not guilty, but he was unable to reach a settlement with prosecutors at a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, according to Jones.
  • Tony Romo continues to vacillate between “done” and “very likely done.” The retired quarterback and current CBS analyst declared last week that he’s through playing football, but now he seems to be leaving the door open ever so slightly for a return. As a guest Thursday on the Ben & Skin show on 105.3 The Fan, Romo said he’s “99.9 percent done” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). The 37-year-old made a similar remark in April, after which a report surfaced stating that teams expect him to make a comeback. While Romo’s career probably is over, a significant preseason injury to a team’s starting QB could change the calculus. It did last summer for Romo, then with the Cowboys, as he broke a bone in his back in August and was unable to reclaim his starting job from super rookie Dak Prescott when he returned midway through the season.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Colts, Bolts

Now that they won’t be able to extend running back Le’Veon Bell until next year, the Steelers are focusing on a new deal for left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. While there has only been “minimal movement” toward an extension, neither side wants Villanueva to miss a significant portion of the summer, reports Fowler, who notes that talks could ramp up before the Steelers open camp July 27. Given that he’s an exclusive rights free agent who won’t be able to reach the open market until after the 2018 season, Pittsburgh doesn’t have to award Villanueva a raise now. In doing so, though, the Steelers would lock up a player who has improbably become an integral part of their offense since joining the team as a practice squad player in 2014. The former Army Ranger captain debuted in 2015 and has appeared in 32 straight games, starting 26. He started each of Pittsburgh’s games last year and was the only member of its offense to play all 1,083 of the unit’s snaps. As a result, the 28-year-old is hoping for a new contract and hasn’t signed his $615K ERFA tender.

More on Pittsburgh and two other AFC franchises:

  • Bell rejected a five-year offer worth roughly $60MM prior to Monday’s deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals. One of Bell’s former Steelers teammates, retired cornerback Ike Taylor, shed some light on the star rusher’s demands Wednesday on NFL Network. According to Taylor, Bell informed him that he wants a contract that reflects his performance as both a No. 1 back and a No. 2 receiver – likely something in the neighborhood of $15MM per year (Twitter links via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com). Bell does have multiple prolific pass-catching seasons under his belt, including his 75-reception showing in 2016. Had the Steelers met his demands, Bell would’ve crushed LeSean McCoy‘s league-leading contract for RBs. The five-year, $40MM-plus deal McCoy signed with the Bills in 2015 continues to stand above the rest, though.
  • Indications are that Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri wants to play at least two more seasons, reports Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Set to turn 45 in December, Vinatieri is the league’s oldest player, but the former Patriot remains one of the game’s premier kickers. He connected on 27 of 31 tries (7 of 9 from 50-plus yards) last season, tying him for the league’s sixth-highest conversion rate (87.1 percent). Vinatieri was also one of five kickers who didn’t miss an extra point, hitting on all 44 attempts. Hanging around for two more years should enable Vinatieri to pass Hall of Famer Morten Andersen as the league’s all-time leader in both points and field goals made, Bowen points out.
  • A back injury could sideline Chargers first-round wide receiver Mike Williams for his rookie season, but they should have the weaponry to survive his absence, notes Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. With Keenan Allen returning from an injury-marred 2016 to complement Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman – all three of whom were productive last year – the Bolts figure to boast a strong corps of wideouts. The Chargers also have an enviable tight end duo (Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates) and pass-catching running back Melvin Gordon, who racked up 41 receptions last season, giving quarterback Philip Rivers plenty of proven targets.

Details On Steelers’ Offer To Le’Veon Bell

The Steelers were unable to sign franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell to a multiyear deal by Monday’s deadline, but they did make him a competitive offer. The club’s proposal was for five years, suggests Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, and came with an average annual value of $12MM, $30MM across the first two years of the contract and $42MM over the first three seasons, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

After rejecting the Steelers’ pitch, Bell will play the 2017 campaign for $12.12MM, and judging by the team’s offer, he seems likely to receive the tag again next year if he turns in another quality season. By designating Bell as their franchise player in 2018, the Steelers would pay him roughly $14.5MM. If Pittsburgh was content to give Bell $14MM per annum over the first three years of the deal, it stands to reason the team would be willing to commit that type of money to him next offseason for a single campaign.

Had Bell accepted the Steelers’ offer, he’d have reset the market at the position – something he’s aiming to do. It’s unclear how much guaranteed money Pittsburgh would have handed him, but Bell’s pact clearly would have outdone the RB-leading AAV ($8MM-plus) and total value ($40.05MM) the Bills’ LeSean McCoy secured on a five-year contract in 2015. McCoy also paces all backs in guarantees ($18.25MM).

While Bell, 25, could play both this year and next under the tag, the twice-suspended star’s future thereafter looks murkier. The Steelers likely wouldn’t place the tag on him for a third straight year, and once the 2019 offseason rolls around, he should have far more tread on his tires. Thanks to both his rushing and pass-catching prowess, Bell has already accrued 1,135 touches during his four-year career at a position where players don’t tend to age well. Nevertheless, Bell is betting on himself in hopes of reeling in a deal even larger than the one Pittsburgh wanted to give him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Steelers, Bell Talks

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.

No Deal For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

The franchise tender extension deadline has come and gone. With no deals struck for the three players in question, we now know that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson will be playing out the 2017 season on one-year deals. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

We’ve believed this to be the most expected outcome for a while now, though Bell was the most likely to sign of the trio. Although Bell might have liked to sign a multi-year deal before this afternoon’s deadline, all three players are still in great shape for the coming year. Cousins will make roughly $24MM on his second straight franchise tag. Johnson will make $16MM on his second time on the tender. Bell will collect a $12MM+ salary on his first ever franchise tag.

The Redskins, Steelers, and Rams can all use the franchise tag on these players next year, but the price would be uncomfortably high in the cases of Bell ($14MM) and Cousins ($34MM) and downright outlandish in the case of Johnson ($20MM). If all goes right for them in 2017, they’re all in position to get paid in 2018 and beyond, one way or another.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deadline Approaching For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

A major deadline is fast approaching for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. If the three franchise-tagged players do not sign an extension with their respective clubs by 4pm ET/3pm CT, they will play out the season on a one-year tender and will not be able to reignite long-term talks until January. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

So far, there hasn’t been significant movement towards a deal for any of the three players in question, though Bell is more likely to sign a multi-year pact than the other two. Then again, after last year’s deadline brought us a surprise accord between the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson, nothing can be ruled out.

The Redskins have slowly upped their offer to Cousins over the last year, but a major gulf still divides the two parties. Cousins’ agent is said to be seeking $24MM annually on a new deal, a number reflective of his ~$24MM tender for 2017. The Redskins, meanwhile, have only offered $20MM per season on a five-year pact. The proposal, which was made back in May, only truly guarantees the first two years for Cousins, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. When considering the gap in dollars and the possibility that Cousins would rather be somewhere else long-term, it seems likely that the QB will play out the year on his tender.

On Monday morning, we heard that there was nothing imminent between the Steelers and Bell. Still, a long-term deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Bell’s camp is aware of the injury risk that running backs carry and they would certainly forego some upside in favor of security. The Steelers, on the other hand, do not want to chance having to cuff Bell with a one-year, $14MM repeat franchise tender next offseason. Even though there hasn’t been a lot of reported progress on a deal in recent weeks, this one feels too logical not to happen.

On the flipside, it would be a shock to see the Rams and Johnson shake hands on a deal this afternoon. Johnson believes that he could be paid like a top cornerback on the open market next spring and unless he turns in a historically spectacular season, there’s little chance that the Rams will tag him for a third straight year at $20MM. Instead, Johnson will happily play out the year for $16.742MM and worry about his future next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.