Le’Veon Bell

Steelers Likely To Franchise Tag Le’Veon Bell In 2018

Le’Veon Bell turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Steelers just prior to the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the two sides are likely headed down the same path in 2018.

Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

Bell turned down the deal, which would have paid him $30MM over the course of the first two seasons but an average of $13MM per year over the life of the contract, in his quest to earn $15MM per year. According to La Canfora, however, Pittsburgh just will not go that high, which means that if Bell does not adjust his expectations, the Steelers will slap him with the franchise tag again this offseason.

If that happens, then Bell’s decision to reject Pittsburgh’s offer this year will have been to his detriment. Instead of earning $30MM under the first two years of the extension, Bell will earn just shy of $27MM under two successive franchise tags. While he would still be eligible for free agency again in 2019, he would have to continue playing at an All-Pro level in order to have any chance of achieving his financial goals.

He is not off to a good start in the regard this season, as his rushing and receiving numbers are down across the board. And though he will not turn 26 until February, his injury and suspension history will always make teams wary of committing top-dollar to him over multiple years.

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La Canfora’s Latest: McDaniels, Caserio, Luck, Bell

Although things could change very quickly, the 49ers are pleased with what they have seen from rookie head coach/GM tandem Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch during their brief tenures with the club. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that San Francisco “intently pursued” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and player personnel director Nick Caserio this offseason and came very close to hiring both.

This does not sound much different than what we heard back in January, when McDaniels and Caserio were considered the runaway favorites to become the 49ers’ head coach and GM, respectively, and it was reported that McDaniels only withdrew his name from consideration when Caserio declined to interview with San Francisco. Both men have been very discerning when considering their next landing spot, and for good reason, considering their success and relative job security in New England. It is unclear as to why Caserio opted not to interview with the 49ers, but according to La Canfora, the possibility of a McDaniels/Caserio tandem in the Bay Area was even more real than it originally appeared. They remain a potential package deal, and they could leave the Pats in 2018 if the right opportunity arises.

Now for more from La Canfora:

  • The CBS Sports scribe reports that Browns head coach Hue Jackson is “irate” with the team’s decision to release Joe Haden, and that Haden’s release has intensified the tensions between the coach and the front office, specifically GM Sashi Brown. Jackson is particularly angry because the release had no football merit and, in his view, was clearly a salary dump even though Cleveland could have easily carried Haden’s salary on its books (although it was reported that the Browns did at least try to trade Haden prior to cutting him). We have heard previously that Jackson would get every opportunity to right the ship in Cleveland, but given the apparently shaky relationship that he has with the club’s personnel department, that may not be the case.
  • La Canfora writes that Colts QB Andrew Luck will miss several more weeks as he continues to recover from recover from offseason shoulder surgery. That is consistent with reports from earlier this week suggesting that Luck could be on the sidelines until sometime in October. Per La Canfora, Luck is expected to practice sooner rather than later and the plan is for him to ramp up his throwing regimen shortly. Indianapolis, of course, does not want to rush the face of its franchise, but if Luck cannot suit up for a few more weeks — and it would be unfair to expect him to perform to the best of his abilities immediately upon returning to the field — it is fair to wonder whether the Colts have any chance at a postseason push in 2017.
  • We heard back in August that Le’Veon Bell turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Steelers at the eleventh hour, and La Canfora writes that the star back would have actually received $18MM in the first year of the deal. However, the average annual value of the extension was $13MM over the first three years, and Bell has been adamant that his next contract pay him $15MM per year. Contrary to that August report, La Canfora says Pittsburgh officials never believed a deal was done, though they were optimistic given the strength of the offer. The two sides are expected to renew long-term discussions as soon as the season is over.

Steelers Activate Le’Veon Bell

It’s official now. Le’Veon Bell is a part of the Steelers’ 53-man roster going into the 2017 season.

The Steelers activated the fifth-year running back on Saturday and cut linebacker Steven Johnson, whom they re-signed earlier this week, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

Johnson played in Pittsburgh last season, seeing action in six games, after stays with the Broncos and Titans from 2012-15. The Steelers cut Johnson upon slashing their roster to 53 players but re-signed him two days later. The 29-year-old Pennsylvania native could conceivably be brought back soon.

Bell, who signed his franchise tender earlier this week, will play in Week 1 for the first time since the 2014 season. He missed the past two Steelers openers because of suspensions.

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Franchise Tender

It’s officially official now. Le’Veon Bell has signed his franchise tender, according to an announcement from the Steelers. Le'Veon Bell (Vertical)

Bell stayed home during training camp and preseason action after the two sides could not reach agreement on an extension before the deadline. All along, we heard that Bell would report to the team before the regular season and he made good on that when he arrived at team headquarters on Friday. He did not put pen to paper on his one-year tender, however. On Monday morning, he did.

The running back will now play out the season on a one-year, $12.12MM tender. If he continues to play at a high level, the Steelers will have to either use a second tag on him worth roughly $14MM or give him a monster multi-year deal to keep him.

Bell ran for 1,268 yards off of 261 carries last year, good for a 4.9-yards-per-carry average, and seven touchdowns. He also had 75 catches for 616 yards and two touchdowns. Bell earned a Pro Bowl nod for his performance and also was named team MVP.

The Steelers have received a roster exemption for Bell, so they are actually carrying 54 players on the roster as of this writing. They have two weeks to get the roster back down to the 53-man max.

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Le’Veon Bell Reports To Steelers

As expected, Le’Veon Bell reported to the Steelers on Friday morning. He’ll sign his franchise tender, meaning that he’ll play out the 2017 season for $12.12MM. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

Had Bell waited until after Saturday’s roster deadline to show up to team headquarters, he could have put his first two game checks in jeopardy. The Steelers, in theory, would have had the option to place him on the roster exempt list through Week 1, meaning that the two sides would have to negotiate his pay for that period. That was unlikely to happen, but the running back now knows for sure that he will collect his full $711K payout for each game.

Bell turned down a multi-year extension offer prior to this year’s deadline that would have paid him $60MM over a five-year term (assuming the Steelers kept him for the full span of the deal). Depending on who you ask, Bell’s camp may have agreed to the deal before 86’ing it at the last minute.

If Bell turns in another strong year, he’ll force the Steelers to tag him again for $14MM, make him a lucrative extension offer, or allow him to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent. If he falters or gets injured, he may regret turning down the $60MM deal.

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AFC Notes: Brock, Ware, Bell, Raiders, Colts

The odds of the Browns releasing quarterback Brock Osweiler and eating his fully guaranteed $16MM salary have seemingly increased in recent days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends. Cleveland saved $15.25MM – nearly the sum of Osweiler’s salary – by releasing defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and cornerback Joe Haden in the past week-plus, which could make it easier to part with the QB now that he won’t be its starter, Florio posits. Osweiler is unlikely to garner any trade interest, so cutting the 26-year-old would enable the Browns to recoup a bit of his salary ($775K) if he signs elsewhere for the league minimum.

More from around the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did indeed suffer a torn PCL and LCL in the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks last week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (on Twitter). Ware will undergo surgery and miss the entire season, leaving him in line for an “intense rehab,” Rapoport notes.
  • Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will end his holdout Friday specifically to avoid landing on the roster exempt list, Florio reports. If Bell were to show up after cuts occur Saturday, the Steelers would be able to place the franchise-tagged star on the list for up to two weeks and pay him a lesser salary than his $711K game check during that period. It’s unlikely Pittsburgh would’ve done that, per Florio, but Bell will remove the possibility by showing up before cutdown day.
  • The Raiders may attempt to acquire a linebacker via trade or waiver claim in the coming days, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. As Gehlken writes, the club didn’t invest much in the position in the offseason – it signed Jelani Jenkins for $1MM and used a fifth-round pick on Marquel Lee – and Cory James is now dealing with an undisclosed injury.
  • The Colts have worked out fullback Jody Webb, Alex Marvez of Sporting News tweets. Webb went undrafted out of Youngstown State in the spring and hasn’t signed with a team since then.

Le’Veon Bell Say He’ll Report Next Friday

Franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell says he’ll report to the Steelers on Friday, September 1 (Twitter link).Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

Pittsburgh had longed believed Bell would return to the club before the regular season gets underway, and now the team has a specific date, one which lands nine days before the Steelers’ season opener. Bell, who will earn north of $12MM on the franchise tender (which he’ll presumably sign once he gets back to Pittsburgh), missed all of training camp and won’t play in the preseason, as he’ll report one day after the Steelers’ final exhibition game.

The Steelers reportedly offered Bell a long-term deal that would have paid him $60MM over a five-year term (including $30MM over the first two years) and made him the league’s highest-paid running back by a wide margin. Bell rejected that offer, and some reports have indicated Pittsburgh and Bell’s agent believed an agreement was in the offing before Bell himself nixed the finalized pact.

When healthy, Bell is clearly one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL, as he topped 1,200 yards from scrimmage in three of his four professional campaigns. A weapon on both the ground and through the air, Bell managed 1,268 yards rushing plus a whopping 75 receptions a season ago, and scored a combined nine times.

Health, though, isn’t a given for the 25-year-old Bell, as he’s missed time with injury in two of the past four years. During his rookie season in 2013, Bell suffered a foot sprain that cost him three sprains, while an MCL/PCL tear sidelined him for 10 contests in 2015. He’s also in the league’s drug program as a result of violating the substance policy, which led to a three-game suspension in 2016.

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Le’Veon Bell Not Expected Back This Week

The Le’Veon Bell holdout is not expected to end by the time the Steelers suit up for their third preseason game, which is Saturday night against the Colts. But the running back still plans to return before the regular season.

While Bell is expected to avoid a return in time for this exhibition contest, a source who spoke to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler revealed it would be surprising if he stayed away much longer due to his “love for football.” The timing of the franchise-tagged runner’s holdout points to Bell skipping preseason play.

Just more than two weeks remain between the third Steelers preseason game and their September 10 opener in Cleveland. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley having been in place for Bell’s entire tenure in Pittsburgh shouldn’t make many pre-Week 1 reps necessary for the 25-year-old, though.

Bell is attached to a $12.12MM cap number once he signs his tender and returns to the Steelers. Missing games would mean forfeiting a prorated portion of that amount, which is by far a league-high for running backs this season.

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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.

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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.