Report: Steelers In “Heavy” Negotiations With Le’Veon Bell

Bit of surprising and interesting news around Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers this evening. NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala just tweeted out the team and Bell’s agents are heavy into a long-term deal.

It’s interesting timing to hear this. Kevin Colbert recently told Bob Labriola and Missi Matthews Bell’s deal is unlikely to get moving until after free agency and the draft, given those two elements are more timely than Bell’s deal. Art Rooney II recently said there was no timetable for getting a deal done.

“Obviously, we’re excited to have Le’Veon on our team, not only this year, but hopefully into the future and so we’ll work on that as time goes on and we don’t have any real time frame that we can put on it right now.”

Under the franchise tag, Bell is set to earn $12 million, with the deadline for a long-term deal set for July 15th.

Given Kinkhabwala’s wording of the tweet, his long-term deal may average close to that $12 million tag figure. There’s no doubt he’ll become the NFL’s highest paid running back, pairing him with Antonio Brown, now the league’s richest receiver.

Colbert has praised Bell’s off-field maturity and given reports from local and national media, it seems certain the Steelers will get a long-term contract done before the deadline. Looking at this specific report, it could happen a lot sooner than anyone thinks.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • 804Stiller

    Man, I love the idea of Bell, Brown and Ben together until Ben retires but man those are some big contracts…………

  • Steelking406

    Very big

  • Sam Clonch

    As long as the cap keeps going up they’ll be alright for a few more years. Then Ben will retire, and it’ll free up $20+ million. Don’t want to think about those days yet though!

  • Ace

    Sign him and break the bank. Us Steelers fans waited years to have the best back in the league on our team. Now that he’s here, keep him at any cost. Ain’t my money.

    Also, anyone else agree those color rush uni’s are way better the the standard ones? Wish they were full-timers, like to see some alternates of it too.

  • Biggie

    Definitely glad to get these guys under contract, they are doing it right. Build through the draft, with the fact these guys first contract isn’t so much you just keep rotating in the young guys in with the higher priced vets and the older guys who are at the end of their career and not making as much. Have to keep the cycle going and draft well. Last years draft really helped us with Burns, Davis, Hargrave contributing big right away. Hopefully can find our edge rusher to develop under Harrison and eventually replace him. Just need to keep the trenches in top shape.

  • Luke

    the window is the next 3-4 seasons. the entire o-line is basically locked up. Cam heyward looked up. Hopefully getting tuitt locked up. Also having guys like Dupree and Shazier on the cheap for another couple of seasons. Along with the growth of Hargrave, Davis, and Burns this is definitely a superbowl caliber team and they are making sure they stay that way for several seasons too come. I don’t mind spending big time on the right guys and these two definitely are “the right guys”

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I know the Steelers want to keep him. The “fishy” part (to me) is that Bell is so interested in doing a long term deal with such urgency.

    Maybe the groin injury is giving him cause for concern? Maybe he’s worried once Peterson signs his new deal that will throw off their comparables?

    I believe Shady McCoy is currently the highest paid RB at $8 million/yr. We all know Bell is better than McCoy but how much better? $2 million/yr. better? 4 million/yr. better?

    I’m hoping for something like 4 years at $11 million/yr. but with only $18 million guaranteed. But from the sound of things, I think he’s going to get more than that.

  • Sam Clonch

    Not ready to say better than the normal ones, but they were nice. Shame they were only around for a single game.

  • Sam Clonch

    Lot of good points. Think ’17 will be the last cheap year for Shazier though, they’ll be looking to lock him up next offseason.

  • dany

    They’re going so fast with everything. Somehow it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re signing Tuitt soon, even if they said July is more likely

  • Sam Clonch

    Hopefully they’re trying to answer the home grown questions quickly so they know what they have to play with in FA. Don’t expect a high $ pick up, but better to have too much cap space than not enough.

  • RealSteel

    Didi said on the NFL network that they are trying to sign Bell to a longer term deal now, to free up cash to spend on a FA cornerback. Kirkpatrick was one of the names she mentioned as a potential target.

  • CP72

    Be interested in what his 2017 cap hit will be. Anything less than 12 million goes right to the bottom line.

  • AndyR34

    The tag pretty much sets the bar as a percentage of the cap…Shady’s salary doesn’t enter in to it. As for how much better…does it really matter? We aren’t the Bills.

  • CP72

    All the Cockrell haters rejoice….I’m not one of them btw. Would rather see a slot corner. Willie Gay could back up all 3 spots…good depth.

  • CP72

    His first year cap hit will be significantly lower than 12 million if he signs long term.

  • RickM

    Personally, his talent is undeniable, but so are his injuries and suspensions. I’m in a minority, but I don’t think he’s worth $12 M or more a year. He’s worth more than that if he could stay on the field, but frankly the odds are better that he won’t. I get the dilemma here: what if he does have that great, complete year we are all hoping for. I’m just skeptical that it can happen and the groin injury is troubling for a RB. I know they’ll sign him for big bucks. It’s gonna happen and that’s fine. But it’s one contract that I’ll sweat out and hope for the best.

  • PaeperCup

    Would have loved the matte helmets with these

  • Daniel

    Get it done!!

  • PaeperCup

    Seriously, the time to win is now!

  • justafanlikeyou

    I’m not sure whether to be excited or concerned. Actually, I’m both!
    I’m excited because they are trying to take full advantage of Ben’s shrinking window. Franchise QBs are not easy to come by so they are keeping the shelves stocked with weapons.
    On the concerned side I know you cannot have one of the top paid QBs, the top paid WR, and the top paid RB and expect to stay relevant for very long. When you tie that kind of money up in 3 players you have limited money for the rest of the team…..and it takes more than 3 players to win games. As these young defensive players start to develop will they have the money to retain them? 3-5 years from now could be very depressing.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Hell Yeah! Lock him up!

  • Dave Olson

    Isn’t this the same reporter who said Antonio Brown was pouting that he was wide open during the TD that D.Williams had against the Patriots? Yet that play Brown was seen blocking the CB on a designed call and was also seen celebrating the TD immediately afterwards. She also said they had to talk to Brown after the TD and calm him down for not getting the ball. Long story short the story was found to be completely fabricated. So…I wonder how valid this story of hers is.

  • RickM

    If Ben is gone after 3 years, that will open everything up again. That will be 16 years in the NFL. I can’t see him playing beyond that.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If they do it now. They might end up with more cap room for free agency. Why wait unless Bell wants someone astronomical.

  • Steve Johnson

    Seems like a lot of people are infatuated over these huge contracts being given out by the Steelers. Granted, it would be nice if they could keep the Corps unit together on Offense. How many AFC Championship Games have they won? How many Super Bowls? Hmm! I just hope they can win at least two more Lombardi’s while the three are playing together. Better yet, I hope Bryant & Bell can stay off the weed and finally open up the season together.

  • RickM

    Kirkpatrick is a bit of a penalty and missed tackle machine, although he improved the penalty count in 2016. But he’s estimated as an $8 Million corner. I think he’ll be too expensive for the Steelers.

  • AndyR34

    Oh…I know that, but you know we have worry-warts that think the FO, especially Khan, don’t know what they are doing.

  • AndyR34

    Few RB’s really last all season…thus the need for a great back-up, such as D-Will or a fairly high draft choice.

  • AndyR34

    And could be less…16 is a long time considering his injury history.

  • AndyR34

    Bad sources are bad sources.

  • T3xassteelers

    GET IT DONE AND KEEP THIS TRAIN ROLLING!!!

  • zeke

    Restructuring Timmons will help with cap

  • deuce_seven

    In a couple years the cap will be well over $180M.

  • RickM

    That’s very true and it’s one of the reasons they are paid less.

  • T3xassteelers

    Those are the people that think we can sign AB and Bell for less than top 5 RB and WR money, lol.. they’re delusional! It’s not Madden to where you can force players to take the amount you want!

  • Jaybird

    Man I can’t ever remember this much news coming from the Steelers in the off season! Pretty exciting stuff. I can’t wait to get home everyday and read the Depot to see what moves they made. There going all in it seems. Super Bowl or bust.

  • T3xassteelers

    Kirkpatrick….??? NO THANKS. Don’t want filth on this team. That’d be odd to see us going after a bigger named FA though.

  • Steel Your Face

    Know disrespect but it seems like whenever this gal sends out something it ends up being totally sideways.

  • Daniel

    This is the same chick that reported brown was throwing a tantrum bcus he wanted td according to her

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Andy –

    The franchise tag amount is determined by averaging the top 5 RB salaries. Bell was fortunate because the $12 million he gets this year is based off Peterson’s last contract of $14 million (which is now void).

    The franchise tag next year will be calculated based on the current top 4 RB salaries, so McCoy’s salary will most definitely play into that. And consequently, if Bell wants to be the highest paid running back the Steelers will definitely cite his $8 million as the current top salary (not Peterson’s $14 million which is now void).

    How much better DOES really matter. That’s the whole premise of negotiating a deal.

  • francesco

    I don’t see why the rush!
    LBell might still be injured when season begins and who knows if he gets suspended again.

  • Matthew Marczi

    How many Super Bowls has anybody won in recent years other than the Patriots? It’s kind of a hard thing to do.

  • Matthew Marczi

    She corrected herself a day later noting that she was talking about a different play. It’s not exactly a secret that Brown has a history of pouting on the sidelines.

  • Sam Clonch

    What are you talking about? Timmons doesn’t have a contract TO restructure he’s a FA.

  • PaeperCup

    Anyone know what overhead costs of the Team staff is, aside from player salaries? FO, Coaches, trainers, janitors…

  • renoir

    In a couple years, both new contracts may turn out to be like the bargain that ABs last contract was for us…Trust in the management on contracts…

  • PaeperCup

    I hope you are right. When AB is putting up 2000 yards a season, but Mike Evans will be paid 19mil/year for 1500 yards.

  • AndyR34

    SSS – There are two methods for calculating the tag…one is as a percentage of the cap, the other is as you mentioned. The player gets the higher of the two. Your math doesn’t work…even the average of the two highest…Peterson @14 and Shady @8 don’t equal 12 million. That doesn’t even count the next three.

  • Dan

    The jerseys reminded me of those awesome gold helmet 50s throwbacks. They were great.

  • Dan

    The average career for a running back is short. Can’t blame Bell and the Steelers for wanting to get this done before his knees disintegrate.

  • zeke

    Ahh shoot, that’s right.

  • will

    “Imma need 15”

  • NinjaMountie

    Man….Bell is someone I’m very conflicted about. I DREAD the idea of not having him while I also SUPER-DREAD the idea of paying him so much.
    He’s an absolute beast when he’s on the field BUT he seems to have an abundance of trouble staying on or getting to the field.
    I’m also of the opinion that his rushing numbers could be replaced with a good draft pick. However, I doubt you find a RB that can do what he does in the passing game.
    I guess if I had to pick…….I say pay him. (said while biting my fingernails afraid he gets hurt or suspended again).

  • Applebite

    Gay is more likely to be gone than Cockrell, with age playing a big factor in that decision.

  • Sam Clonch

    players get 48% of revenue per the CBA i believe, so you can assume owners take is a little more than the $167 mil cap. As far as salaries for everyone? Anyones guess. Maybe Packers publish something as they are “publicly owned” (not really, but whatever). Not required to be public I assume.

  • popsiclesticks

    I generally like new uniforms and I agree on these ones. Also agree with PaeperCup about the matte helmets, which they could do if they used those full time.

  • popsiclesticks

    Push it all forward and suck in 2020. At least that would be my strategy. When Ben is gone, suddenly your cap will straighten itself out.

  • popsiclesticks

    It’s either overpay your own guys a little bit or overpay complete wild card FAs a lot. I think a lot of people assume you can just take Bell’s money and get a great CB and a good #2 WR. In reality, $12 mil last year could have got you some hits but it also could have gotten you Sean Smith getting beat like a drum from the start and Marvin Jones’ disappearing act.

  • popsiclesticks

    He’s made $4 mil in his career. With the stroke of a pen, he can get maybe 4 times that immediately and another 8 figures guaranteed on top of it. It’s probably tempting.

  • MC

    Loved these ones. I want to see the standard ones have the large block numbers like the old school ones, such a good look.

  • popsiclesticks

    I don’t know if Ben is $15 mil better than Brian Hoyer but I’d rather have Ben.

  • popsiclesticks

    Could Cockrell play in the slot? He did that last year with some success, didn’t he?

  • popsiclesticks

    I don’t think it’s a huge minority. I see it a lot and I understand it, I just disagree regards to Bell. It’s either overpay him a little or overpay a FA by a lot and hope you draft another great RB. Screw that up and that window could slam shut.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Below is an excerpt from an article written by Joel Corry (NFL agent):

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) changed how non-exclusive franchise tags are determined. Since its inception in 1993, a franchise tag number had been an average of the five largest salaries in the prior year at a player’s position or 120 percent of the prior year’s salary of the player, whichever was greater. For franchise tag purposes, salary means a player’s salary cap number, excluding workout bonuses.

    Those two provisions remain intact, but the formula component is now calculated over a five-year period that’s tied to a percentage of the overall salary cap. More specifically, the number for each position is determined by taking the sum of the non-exclusive franchise tags as determined by the original methodology for the previous five seasons and dividing by the sum of the salary caps for the previous five seasons. The resulting percentage, which is known as the Cap Percentage Average in the CBA, is then multiplied by the actual salary cap for the upcoming league year.

    This non-exclusive tag allows a player to negotiate with other NFL teams, but if he signs an offer sheet with another club, his team has five days to match the offer. If the offer is not matched, his team will receive two first-round picks as compensation from the signing team.

    Under the exclusive franchise tag, a player will receive a one-year offer from his team that is the greater of 120 percent of his prior year’s salary or the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free agent signing period of the current year has ended (April 22 for 2016). A player cannot negotiate with other teams with the exclusive franchise tag.

  • popsiclesticks

    Most teams with good QBs have similar money tied up in three players.

  • popsiclesticks

    I know nobody will believe me but I said last year that they should have signed him then. If he was open to it, that is. Prices just keep going up the longer you wait, generally.

    And if he gets suspended again, they probably won’t have to pay him anymore.

  • popsiclesticks

    How many Super Bowls has Atlanta won? And they’re keeping Matt Ryan and Julio Jones??? IDIOTS!

  • popsiclesticks

    Or he might not be and then his price goes up because he’s already gotten that far on the franchise tag.

  • popsiclesticks

    It might seem like a bargain in a week when Alshon Jeffrey gets damn near 20 million.

  • popsiclesticks

    They might be, but you might also draft Bishop Sankey. You can still draft a mid-round RB like Marlon Mack to back him up on the cheap and take over if need be.

    Heck, what if you draft Todd Gurley? He might be a victim of the Rams offense or he might be a huge bust. Bell is an absolute guaranteed stud when he’s on the field, and he’ll seem cheap once David Johnson gets $15 mil a year. David Johnson, by the way, was drafted after TJ Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah. The Jags have no rushing attack because they pinned their hopes on TJ Yeldon.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    My point is not about the tag amount Bell is getting this year. My point is about the salary Bell is asking for on a long term deal. That is the title of this article… “Steelers in Heavy Negotiations with Bell” (on a long term deal, not on the franchise tag amount ).

    When Antonio Brown signed his long term contract, they looked at the contracts of A.J. Green and Julio Jones as a comparison. They did not look at Calvin Johnson’s contract because that contract is now void (like Peterson’s).

    When you’re negotiating to become the highest paid RB, the current highest paid RB salary does matter immensely. If you think McCoy’s current contract doesn’t have relevance to Bell, we can agree to disagree.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Assuming health, and you can only go off of what you know at the given moment, since none of us are Miss Cleo (RIP), I believe that NOW… RIGHT NOW… is when Le’Veon Bell’s value will be at its lowest. So if we are wise, we’ll get a deal done with him now. Especially before that groin/hernia heals and he goes back to thinking he’s Superman and not Clark Kent.

    The numbers that Bell put up last year, when you step back and really look at them, were incredible. And at his age, his potential future productivity, and what we would have to do in order to replace him, it all means that the absolute best move for us, is to do everything we can to get him to sign for around 10 million per. That would make him the highest paid back, in a RB market that has been, and will continue to be, trending downward. The days of RB’s making 100 million dollar contracts are OVER.

    Now, if I’m his agent, I’m insisting on him making the 12 million per. And if I’m Bell, I’m asking for closer to the rap song negotiated price of 15 million per. And if I’m Colbert, and I hear from his very lips that he wants the 15, I tell him to make sure he has a ready supply of someone’s urine because clearly he is high, ha high, ha high high high. If it comes out that we pay a RB anywhere close to 15 million per, I’ll lose my mind. Even for a transcendent talent like Bell. This isn’t 2011 anymore.

    No, the number needs to be closer to 10. 10 we all can live with. 10 takes into account his injury history, his suspensions, and his needing to be the highest paid RB. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’ll sign for the 10. But that is where I’d start. For if you are Colbert/Khan, you can always go up a little more as he comes down from the sky at 15. Meet in the middle, bite the bullet, and cross your fingers and toes Steeler Nation, that his puffing days during the season are OVER.. And that he avoids the dirtier Bengals and their shenanigans, twice each year. You can’t predict future injuries for a player, you can only talk of propensity. And though Bell has been snakebit, all we can do is hope and pray and roll with the optimism. For Bell is the type of talent you don’t let get away. And with this contract coming at just the right point of the age of a RB (HIS PRIME) we have to do whatever it takes to keep him. Whatever it takes, EXCEPT paying him 15 million per season. That’s ludicrous.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Todd Gurley is a victim of a Rams offense that can’t throw the ball.

  • Matthew Marczi

    No, I’m not sure if he’s ever played in the slot.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Next thing you know they’ll be starting rookies on defense.

  • Steve Johnson

    The Patriots have won five SB’s over a span 16yrs. So that means 11 other teams have won the SB as well. It can be done, I just think the Steelers have tied too much up in those two players already.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Rick –

    I think the issue you presented will be addressed in the form of the “guaranteed” amount. If it contains a clause for marijuana suspensions, that will matter. If it contains less than two years salary guaranteed, that will matter.

    Antonio Brown only got $19 million guaranteed at signing. Julio Jones got $47 million. I bet the Steelers are going to keep the guaranteed amount to Bell lower than what most agents would expect.

  • Gautama Om

    The contract better be with a lot of clauses AND low guaranteed money.

  • AndyR34

    I know about Corry’s article and it was the basis of my argument. If the tag was based primarily upon the top 5 salaries, as you implied, it would be nowhere near $12 mil. It is the Cap Percentage Average that drives up to that level. That has been pointed out here on SD before.

  • AndyR34

    Well, first of all, we can only speculate what Bell is asking for and I would maintain that he has every right to use the tag number as a baseline…and consider AP’s last contract as well. Just because he has been subsequently released does not mean that the precedent established by that contract is not relevant. As for McCoy’s contract, I think it has little bearing on current negotiations and I believe Bell’s numbers will be closer to AP’s than to McCoy’s. So maybe we agree to disagree.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You know the Steelers won two of those Super Bowls in that span right?

  • RickM

    You could very well be right. The guaranteed money will be important as you say that is a low amount for AB. A lower amount for Bell could offset the injury risk. But what do you mean by mairjuana clause? The player already receives no salary while suspended. Are you suggesting there might be a clause where the team is given the right to release him, or some payback may be required from Bell if he gets a third suspension? Not sure what tou’re contemplating.

  • RickM

    There’s two choices with Bell. Tag him, see how he does and then try to sign him next off-season. If he’s injured again, or suspended, his price goes down. If he plays a complete season and does well, you’re probably paying a couple million more to sign him…if you can.

    The more logical thing to do is sign him now. I get that. I just am uncomfortable about his durability. But you live with it and hope for the best. As a GM, if he isn’t going to get the sports hernia fixed, I wouldn’t extend him right now. But that’s just me.

  • Rob S.

    Would be good to know what kind of cap space you have going into FA

  • Rob S.

    No way his agent would have let him sign last year. The price would have been way down.

    I think everyone is making too much out of his second suspension. He missed a test, he didn’t fail one. It’s a big difference. Also if he would have failed or missed another this past season, the team would already know.

  • Jose F Bilbao

    Just added the Bell color rush jersey to my collection. Nuff said =)

  • Paddy

    Lets hope if they do sign him long term they go after Brandon Marshall too.

  • popsiclesticks

    You may be right, but his agent works for him. Say he tore his ACL again last year – he may have never made truly big money.

  • Justin Warrenfeltz

    Fire Arians!

  • Ralph Wagner

    Bell is good but not worth that kind of BIG money. He is only a part time player, has never completed a full season. Usually misses the beginning of the season and the end of the season, could have used him against the Pats. Big contracts don’t win games, playing in games help win games. just say’n.

  • Aj Gentile

    I didn’t see in the article that Bell’s side was the ones acting with urgency.