There was a lot of confusion surrounding Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers last season. It was widely reported during the early part of the season that Bell planned on playing for the Steelers in 2018. The timeline varied but it was consistently reported that Bell planned on showing up sometime after Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye week. Then he never did, and we never knew what happened, until now. Bell had previously thought he needed to play six games to earn an accrued season and avoid his franchise tag from tolling over to 2019, but then realized that wasn’t the case, he explained in a recent interview with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.
Bell had “absolutely intended” to report after Week 7, “but shortly before then, Bell learned that he didn’t need to play any games to hit free agency. Before then, he thought he needed to play six games for an accrued season, but turns out he was free as long as the Steelers didn’t tag him again,” Fowler writes. Bell apparently learned on social media that he wouldn’t have to play, and took the plan to his agent. Bell also revealed that he came close to returning once more, in Week 11.
“‘I was so close to doing it,’ he said. ‘At the same time, I was so torn. Do I go through that? Will they embrace me or will they not? I eventually decided I sat out 10 games, I can sit six more. At the time, the team was malfunctioning, having problems, a lot of blame on me. I didn’t want to come back and not feel welcome,'” Bell said. It won’t change anything, but it’s nice to finally have some clarity on what went down with Bell and the Steelers as he prepares for his new life with the Jets.
Here’s more from around the league as the free agency frenzy is finally starting to quiet down:
- Ryan Tannehill is no longer a Dolphin, after he was traded yesterday to the Titans. But he’s leaving behind a significant impact, as Tannehill will leave the Dolphins with $18.423MM in dead cap, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. As Florio points out, it only would’ve been $13.423MM in dead cap had they designated him a post-June 1 cut and released him outright. Essentially the Dolphins ate an additional $5MM in dead cap to get back a fourth and seventh round pick, the compensation they got from the Titans in the trade. They also gave up a sixth round pick of their own.
- Panthers offensive lineman Taylor Hearn was caught on camera getting into a fight outside of a bar and getting knocked out, according to TMZ Sports. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer tweeted out the Panthers’ statement on the incident, which reads “we are aware of the video, and have been in contact with Taylor and the league about the incident. We will have no further comment at this time.” Hearn, a rookie undrafted free agent from Clemson, appeared in just four games for the Panthers this past season. Already a bottom of the roster type player, this could effect his status with the team.
- Our friends over at Overthecap.com are out with a great new page to track free agency spending this offseason, keeping track of each team’s signings, how much money they’ve doled out, and how much in guarantees they’ve pledged. So far the Jets have guaranteed by far the most money, as they’re on the hook for at least $115.5MM with the contracts they’ve signed so far. The Lions, Raiders, 49ers, and Bills round out the top five in terms of new money guaranteed. In terms of total spending, including non-guaranteed money, the Packers have been the biggest spenders, dishing out contracts worth a total of $184.1MM.