The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to work out a long-term contract extension with running back LeVeon Bell by Monday’s deadline but on the surface, the team’s former second-round draft pick has no ill will toward the organization, even though he somewhat sarcastically said on his Snapchat account earlier in the evening that he apparently needs to get better after failing to strike a new deal.
“It’s a little frustrating but it’s a business,” said Bell, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “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.”
Bell, who didn’t reveal to Fowler the kind of money the Steelers offered him prior to Monday’s deadline, did say that the organization didn’t attempt use his past injuries against him during the negotiating process and that he’s still optimistic both sides can reach an extension agreement after the 2017 season is over.
“I definitely don’t want to play for anybody else,” said Bell of the Steelers, according to Fowler.
Bell also told Fowler that he accepts the fact the running back market took a big hit this offseason that resulted in LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills being the highest paid at the position at just a little more than $8 million when it comes to currently active long-term deals. With that said, he hopes to be the one to revive the market by playing under the $12.12 franchise tag he received from the team during the offseason.
“I can’t be the guy who continues to let it take a hit,” Bell said, per Fowler. “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.”
With Bell now on a one-year deal, he has all the incentive in the world to not only stay healthy for an entire season, but out of trouble with the league office as well. He certainly has the potential to register 2500 yards from scrimmage in 2017 as evidenced by the stats he posted in just 12 regular season games played in 2016.
A solid 2017 season could ultimately result in Bell receiving the franchise tag from the Steelers again next offseason if a new deal can’t be consummated between the two sides prior to that deadline. That tag amount, however, will be $14.554 million, which could still be way above market value for running backs just as his $12.12 franchise tag was this offseason.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Bell handles the team’s upcoming training camp as he’s not tipping his hand yet as to when, or even if, he’ll report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe this year. I will also be worth watching to see if him standing his ground this offseason winds up helping another running back in the league who might sign new long-term extensions prior to the start of the 2017 regular season. Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, specifically.
As of Monday night, it appeared as though Bell, who has yet to sign his franchise tender, is in Miami, where he’ll likely continue training at Bommarito Performance Systems until at least the start of training camp and perhaps even longer.