Common Sense Must Prevail In Le’Veon Bell Deal


Kevin Colbert. Omar Khan. Le’Veon Bell and agent. Come in, sit down, I’ll break out the good paper plates. We gotta have a talk.

As you know, by 4 PM today, a new deal has to get done with Bell. And yes, I said has to. Posturing is normal, part of the dance between team and agent. But Kevin, I know you aren’t a good dancer. We have two left feet. Let’s wrap this song up.

Contracts can be tricky. There’s no denying that. I’m sure the general language of the deal is already in place, or easy to agree upon. The years, overall money, first year base salary. The devil is in the details. That’s the hard part of any new deal.

But let’s take advantage of the opportunity. You, the Steelers’ organization, want Bell back. Bell, we know you want to stay in Pittsburgh. This isn’t the mess Washington is in with Kirk Cousins, a front office unable to make up their mind of what to do with him and in turn, making the player question if he wants to stay in town (get out, by the way, Kirk). Here, it’s a difficult negotiation but one done in good faith. There’s a big, clear common goal.

It’s a situation that no one should overthink. Elite players stay in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger never even came close to sniffing free agency. Antonio Brown got done as promised. And Bell, in talent, is in the same ballpark. Elite. Unique.


Pittsburgh, don’t risk the chance Bell tests free agency. It’ll be a red mark on your resume, Colbert. And Bell, don’t take the risk of playing through the tag where injury – there’s a history – can wreck your leverage. Your price tag isn’t going to be any higher than it is now; even $10.5 million per season will do laps around the field.

Not getting an extension would be an obvious mistake. For both sides. Continue to prove why the Steelers have one of the top organizations in football. They identify and keep top talent at the game’s most important positions. And Bell, you know the grass is rarely greener outside of Pittsburgh. Chat up William Gay. He’ll clue you in. Money is nice until you’re on a 4-12 49ers team.

It’s Monday morning and word is, you guys aren’t that much closer to getting a deal done. But we both know these deals can get done quickly. Like any college student, there’s no bigger motivator than an impending deadline.

Ok, it’s time to get down to business. Let me clear the table for you guys. I’ll grab you a pen, Le’Veon. There’s a contract that needs your signature.

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.
  • dwsteelers

    Amen.

  • rdjmsr53

    You mentioned Cousins. The Steelers are going to need a QB. I say go all in this year. don’t sign Bell to a long term contract. I think Ben retires after this year. Ben +Bell money would be more than enough to get Cousins. Draft a running back and life goes on.

  • Dorian James

    If only it were that simple Alex. I don’t know enough about Le’Veon Bell to make this assumption but I’m going to make it anyway. Being the highest paid running back is probably not enough for him. he probably wants to be the highest paid player, and that’s not going to happen. Is it possible they can work out something shorter-term and just let him walk in a couple of years?

  • ND_Steel

    What would Chuck Norris do?

  • Lil Smitty

    If Bell wants more than 48 million for 4 years, I hope they let him go. He is good, but there are too many good players the Steelers are going to need to keep besides just Bell.
    I am trying to think of any player that was the top paid player at their position for the players. Some other team ultimately pay their players more.

  • Mike Popovich

    Pssh…for a running back!? Not these days! How many serviceable backs will be in the top 2 rounds in next years draft? So here is the better business plan: Let Bell play the year out under the tag, give him 350-400 touches to earn every penny, and use the free money to resign Tuitt and Villanueva to long -term deals during the offseason.

  • ND_Steel

    Will be difficult not to question his motivation if he plays on the tag. He’s proven he can play elite, but he has to protect his health above all else.

  • Jeff McNeill

    Please no.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Get it done.

  • falconsaftey43

    they have the money to sign all 3.

  • StolenUpVotes

    It’s like people forget how much of this core is already locked up for the next 3-4 seasons.

  • RickM

    It’s a lot tougher negotiation than with either Ben and AB. They didn’t have injury profiles that included 3 major injuries (in terms of recovery time), and they accepted salaries that were in line with the best at their positions. Brown likely couldn’t care less how much the highest salary for a RB in 2017 is. He’s already referenced a foolish one-off contract (AP) that backfired on the Minnesota Vikings as his target. If Colbert doesn’t get it done, I won’t be blaming him. All that said, my guess remains that a contract is signed today.

  • Andrew

    I feel like if he gets anymore than 9 million a season, it is an over pay. We can’t have those three cap hits on offense, it will destroy our cap. Bell is the best in the league sure, but we have a good OL. If he walked next year, then we would have Connor and a likely high round RB to replace him. If Bell is reasonable with his contract, go for it. Don’t overpay though. It will be a huge mistake.

  • Edjhjr

    I still don’t see all the reasons to sign him if they can get him back again next year

  • Peki

    Would love to be wrong, but smells like 2 years of franchise tags, and then he’s gone.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Again, how does it destroy our cap? The core pieces of the O-line are locked up through 2020. AB through 2022. Dupree is on the cheap for the next two seasons plus a fifth year option. Burns, Davis, and Hargrave have three more seasons of being on cheap rookie deals. Vince Williams is never going to be a high dollar guy. Tuit is not making 12-13M+ in Pittsburgh regardless if Bell is on this roster or not. Shazier plays a position where the highest paid player at that spot isn’t even in the top 60 of all salaries in the NFL. AV has zero leverage until after 2018. Ben is in his last contract and could decide to retire after this season. Then you have guys on this roster who will be replaceable by players who are on the last half of their rookie contracts. There are also a few guys on this roster who can restructure deals to make it all fit even more. I am just struggling to see how signing Bell to something like 12m per is going to wreck our cap.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I might be in the minority, but I think $48MM is too much for a RB (albeit the possible M. Faulk of this era).

  • D.j. Reynolds

    That assumes reasonable demands by Bell. I hope you’re right. Though signing both Bell and Brown to highest paid contracts pretty much ensures we must draft Ben’s eventual replacement rather than sign him in FA. But, I can live with that if we keep the rest of the roster stacked!

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I do think Bell’s rap lyrics are meaningful. He wants $15M/yr to,show he’s the best in the game.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I don’t necessarily agree that $9MM is the number, but I agree there is a ceiling not too far away from that — maybe $11MM or $12MM. I personally think $10MM per year average is ideal for both sides.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Agreed. He wants much more than the market currently dictates.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Common sense is an excellent point Alex. The 12+ million dollars Bell is going to make this season is not only 4 million more than the next highest paid back (Shady McCoy), it is LITERALLY one and a half times what McCoy is making. I get them using the franchise tag for a year and giving him that money for this year. Especially if you had hopes of signing something long term in the meantime. I can even see you making him the highest paid player at that position. I fail, however, to see the sense in signing an extension that would pay him 50% more than the current highest paid player at the position. And that’s only based on the franchise number. Rumor has it that he’s asking for closer to 15 mil per season. The market is what it is at the RB position. “Common sense” says that anything close to 10 per season on a long term deal is more than adequate.

  • falconsaftey43

    Unless you believe Cousins is that guy (I’m not sure he is) and you’re lucky enough to be the team to get him, who exactly are you signing to be your franchise QB?

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I’m not a Cousins believer and absolutely prefer finding one in the draft (but that is often harder said than done).

  • John Hinton

    The deal will get inked by today’s 4PM deadline.

  • Xi37

    The guy has been hurt every year. Elite player, but still takes the pounding all other running backs do which equals a short shelf life. Is he really even going to be great 3 years from now? When will these annual knee injuries catch up with him?

    It is extremely poor cap-allocation to invest in a RB for big $$$ with term. You really are not seeing the forest for the trees. Make him prove he can stay healthy for a single year. If you have to franchise him next year you do it, then see you later.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    My guess is basically that Bell wants more than he is worth, at least to the Steelers specifically. I am sure he can get more from a losing team desperately in need of a playmaker but Pittsburgh can win without him. It makes winning harder (Bell is the best back in the league afterall) but still extremely doable. Add onto that injury and suspension history and the Steelers have every right to not break the bank on him despite his skillset.

    Obviously I could be very wrong here and the Steelers are really trying to lowball him but that doesn’t seem likely given their history.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yes, it’s hard to find one in the draft, but almost impossible in FA. Legit QBs rarely get to FA. Guys I can think of in recent history are Manning (injury related, team got Luck) and Brees (injury related, team got Rivers). Outside of that, has there been a FA QB that’s had real success? Tyrod Taylor

  • Zarbor

    15M/yr is silly and if he’s aiming for that, then franchise for one, maybe two years and then “bye.”
    We ain’t got time for that nonsense. I like the kid but we want players who are about the team and winning championships.

  • Dorian James

    That would would hurt. And eat up unnecessary cap space.
    I sure hope you’re wrong too LOL

  • StolenUpVotes

    People keep saying this yet he comes back better after each one. Reminder only one knee injury was considered serious and needed surgery. The other was a hyper extension. Not a torn ligament or anything of that nature. The dude was even practicing in a limited capacity leading up to the game WC game against Baltimore that week. It wasn’t like he was bed ridden or on crutches.

  • RickM

    I got one of his injury timelines completely wrong, thinking that all 3 of his latest injuries occurred late in the year. As others I’m sure know, the 2015 injury occurred in Week 8.

    So we have a guy who has had two injury surgeries in two football seasons, one in mid-season 2015 and one after the 2016 season. And a guy who has played in only 18 of the last 32 regular season games because of either injury or suspension. For him to even think he’s worth Adrian Peterson money is lunacy. If a deal is done, the team will be holding its breath hoping he can stay on the field and return good value for the deal.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Preach, Brother Alex!

    PREACH!

    Let’s get this thing done and it’s McChickens for everybody!

  • D.j. Reynolds

    That is a fair point – most good QBs never make it to FA. I know you’re right about that.

    However, there are many examples of mid-tier QB’s that can be signed (albeit for more $$ than we would like) that are mediocre and can hold-the-fort-down while we find a good QB in the draft (i.e., the Kent Graham/Mike Tomczack types or more recently a Mike Glennon in Chicago type). In addition to Cousins in 2018, as further examples, you will also at least have Garropolo and AJ McCarron and maybe a couple other “potential” guys or mid-tier guys out there.

    My point is that if we are not careful with our spending now, we may not be able to afford to keep the Defense guys when the time comes in addition to one of those “upper” mid-tier guys out there. In the past our Defense is how we weathered the QB-struggle times, not our offensive pieces. Then again, maybe Landry or (more likely) Dobbs could be that mid-tier, game manager type when the time comes — I’m not yet banking on that though.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    The point is that I like L. Bell & hope we sign him long-term; but, we need to be careful not to overpay.

  • CountryClub

    I just don’t think it’s an absolute must to sign him long term. The tag this yr will be 12 mil and supposedly 14 mil next yr. Let him play on the tag both years and then let someone else pay for the inevitable decline. RBs age badly in 99% of the cases. And, this is a guy that’s already dealt with numerous injuries. Bell is great, and if they pay him 26 mil over 2 years, it’ll be more than he should get (in today’s market). To me, it would be a win win for each party.

    I’d be fine with the signing him long term too. But, only at their price.

  • Terrible Towlie

    chuck norris counted to infinity twice
    under his beard is another fist
    he’s still the coolest guy he knows

  • falconsaftey43

    Agreed. Unfortunately, those mid-tier QBs make a ton of money now. Will be interesting to see what they do there. I think most likely scenario is they draft a guy in 1st round, and he plays right away. Just how it seems to go these days.

    Strong defense would be nice to break in a new QB with. Hopefully we’ll have one by then.

  • Michael Conrad

    Four years at 36 is a good deal no more then 38 . Let him walk he has not been available at some of the most important times.
    I look at his injury history and just know if I’m Colbert and Tomlin I need a good number two back from now on so why put a ton into Bell knowing he is one hit from being done. The team is deep enough to draft a running back in the first or second round. I get it he is special when healthy. I know the Steelers want to do a deal its in Bells hands.

    I hate to say this its not about the money its about the ego of players.

    Like I said New England in six SB’s never had a star running back.

  • StolenUpVotes

    They’ve also had arguably the best QB and coach ever. Something this franchise doesn’t have. We need to stop comparing the rest of the NFL to NE. They are not the rule. They are the extreme exception. That is what has made this run of theirs special and we aren’t going to see another run like this ever again.

  • Terrible Towlie

    what is he waiting for?
    he’s on a great team with a really good OL, and a chance at the SB every year….so whats the hold up?
    doesnt being on a winning team mean anything anymore? dont these guys realize there is a salary cap, and you cant keep a championship caliber team together if 3 guys are taking up most of the cap….. the money he’ll get will still put him in the 1%
    would you rather make $10mil for a winner or 13 to play for the Brown stains?

  • Terrible Towlie

    Corey Dillon was

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, Young Alex! Get it done!

  • Alex Kozora

    I don’t look at it as a position. I look at talent. He’s elite. Steelers don’t let elite guys get away.

  • Terrible Towlie

    Rod Woodson

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    LeVeon Bell agrees to a $1.00 deal with a simple Chuck Norris handshake.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeahhhhhh budddy

  • Alex Kozora

    And that was a big mistake, yes? (the answer is yes).

  • Aj Gentile

    Ben is going to retire this year or the next. That’s a lot of cap space becoming available.

  • Aj Gentile

    Who is saying he’s asking for 15?

  • Terrible Towlie

    I’m still pist at Donahoe,let star players leave without even an offer
    then telling Woodson, “we’re not the salvation army” when he wanted to come back.
    and also for not picking up Joe Montana when he wanted to play here….and drafting Jamain Stephens and Troy Edwards instead of Alstot, and Javon Kearse

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I believe our defense is getting there. I just want to make sure we don’t overcommit to the offensive side of the ball and limit our ability to keep the most important pieces (i.e., the eventual best 4 to 5 or so of Burns, Davis, Hargrave, Tuitt, Shazier, maybe Dupree and/or Watt and/or Sutton – that is a lot of defensive talent that will be demanding $$ over the next 4-5 years).

  • falconsaftey43

    Just curious, if he would have hit the FA open market this year, what do you think he would have gotten?

  • RickM

    I think they should sign the guy for a fair amount and hope they get good value back. He’s a great RB, no doubt. But you can’t minimize that injuries in each of the last two seasons have required surgery. Granted he didn’t suffer the groin injury until the playoffs, but if it had been during the season he would have once again missed significant time.

    Talent, injuries and suspensions are the words that come to mind with Bell. Ben and AB combined have only missed 5 games in the last 4 seasons. Bell has missed 15 in those same 4 seasons. The final game in 2016 where all 3 players were rested has not been included in any of the totals. Missing almost 25% of the games during his career, and having injuries that required surgery in each of the last two seasons, definitely matters if I’m the GM negotiating with Bell’s agent.

  • mark mcfadden

    He is not getting signed today, he is still in a probationary period with the nfl, if he misses another drug test his suspension is 8 games or 1 year, If he stays clean for another year his penalty goes back down to 4 games or less, so he’ll have to wait a year for a new contract.

  • falconsaftey43

    part of the result of his appeal from previous suspension was that his next suspension would only result in a 4 game suspension.

  • Igmond

    I agree. The RB salaries are in decline, why pay based on last years numbers? The Steelers can have Bell under control for 2 more years if they want. Bell can either sign for the current market price long term or play on the tag. Either way he plays in 2017.

  • Alex Kozora

    Colbert has publicly said that isn’t much of a concern to them and they believe Bell will continue to do the right things. Hard to see it suddenly becoming an issue at the deadline. It isn’t one.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    He did. In a rap song he dropped titled “focus”

  • RickM

    I agree that the suspension thing is less of a concern. If he gets a big contract he would lose big bucks, even with only a 4-game suspension. I don’t see him going down that path while on a big deal.

  • RickM

    He would have gotten lots because there are 31 other teams, some with money to burn salary-cap wise. It wouldn’t hurt them as much if they say given him $13M a year and he got injured. For a contending team tight against the cap, it would be a bigger setback financially and competitively as well.

  • falconsaftey43

    I think that’s a very fair assessment. I think more people need to understand the difference between what Bell is worth (i.e. could earn on open market) and what the Steelers should invest in him. They don’t have to be the same number.

  • StolenUpVotes

    And others need to realize that paying around 12m per isn’t necessarily over paying for the guy.

  • RickM

    I agree. It’s a given that there are often teams out there that will overpay (e.g. Mike Wallace’s $15M deal with Miami, even Andrew Whitworth’s current deal with Rams). Some teams spend their money wisely and others don’t. Our team does in the vast majority of cases.

  • nutty32

    Cousins is overrated. He’s not a finisher, closer. I wouldn’t break the bank on him like he was one of the gamers.

  • Alex Kozora

    Agreed.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I’m not looking forward to the post Ben era in PIT, but seriously? Ben & Bell money?

    Hell no!

    If it comes to that, I live with Bell on another team (not in the AFCN), but Cousins has proven for two seasons to be a stats QB…nothing more.

  • TroymanianDevil

    well said and agreed. I think the fundamental issue can basically be summed up in your first 2 sentences unfortunately

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    I follow you and falconsafety on believing bell would get more in FA. He should and would get more. But I’m thinking it’d be closer to 11.5, which isn’t a whole lot different I know. I was just remembering how hyped everyone was on this RB class in the draft. I think it would have at least slightly affected his market in FA.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I think the team’s cap would be fibe. Remember, the cap goes up annually. We have a cheap contract for the left tackle spot and a rookie contract at the premium olb spot. Three rookie starters help as well contractwise.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Agreed. Franchise him this year and next.

  • pittsburghjoe

    How many star running backs have the pats had? The opportunity cost is too high. Run him hard and throw him away at the end of the year.

  • ciscoNoDrink

    In 1993 emmitt smith signed a 4 year 13.6 million dollar contract when the cap was 34 million. That same contract today would be for 60+ million over 4 years. Times have changed.

  • falconsaftey43

    How many years have they had the best QB of all time? Give me Tom Brady, and I’ll gladly let all my other offensive skill players walk away.

  • falconsaftey43

    Now THAT is a contract. Dang.

  • pittsburghjoe

    My bet is no deal, we will see by this afternoon.

  • RickM

    You could be right. I can never figure out some of the deals offered in FA, so I wouldn’t even speculate how much he would get. Desperation to win for your fanbase seems to inflate values. I think there’s even desperation by some GM’s to keep their jobs and field a winning team.

  • Big Joe

    I certainly don’t question the logic of your article. If Bell gets hurt again his stock goes down across the league. However, thats the same reasoning for the team too. If he gets hurt, they’ve committed a lot of money to a RB with an injury history the doesn’t reward the team with a full season. The opposite could also occur in that he gets through season intact and his stock goes up. Who knows how it’ll play out but include not holding my breath that a deal will get done.

  • TroymanianDevil

    With just Brady no. On his super cheat contract with the same great coach and in a weak division. Then yes.

  • Big Joe

    It’s actually a 4-game suspension at the next hit.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Hahaha I couldn’t agree more. I think you’re spot on about some of the reasons as well.

  • Very interesting – I hadn’t realized that the new CBA locks in a 5 year average of percentages of top-5 salaries as a ratio of the cap number. I dug probably too deep into this:

    % for this year is 7.3% of the $167M cap

    % for the last 5 years

    2016 – 5.5%
    2015 – 7%
    2014 – 7.5%
    2013 – 8.5%
    2012 – 8.5%

    (data from Sportrac)

    Mostly due to Adrian Peterson, the cap numbers for RB are much higher than market. He’s in fact the only player to ever have a cap hit more than Bell’s tag number. in 2013 he alone accounted for 11.3% of the cap number for the vikings.

    Meanwhile the cap jumped 40% in that time with typical RB salaries declining. The franchise tag for RB is going to be a poor number for teams until the salary numbers stabilize as a percentage of the cap.

    My stats wonk take on this is that the issue (by that I mean how the tag got so far from the assumed spirit of the rule) here is calculating an average to represent on a non-normal data set — poor practice. It couldn’t get any worse since they basically picked the outliers from the data set and applied an average. If they’d have used the median, the effect would be much reduced. Essentially the franchise tag would be in that case the 5-year average cap hit of the third highest paid RB in the league. A win for the NFLPA I guess..

  • Darth Blount 47

    Absolutely, positively, the most un-talked about aspect of the entire Brady-Belichick era, are the sorry sack Bills, Dolphins, and Jets… that let the Pats cakewalk themselves to division titles… EVERY. SINGLE YEAR.

    I sure would like to play in a division with the Browns, the Beiges, and the Taupes.

  • Terrible Towlie

    Tomczak was way better than Kant Graham

  • falconsaftey43

    Even if you throw out Peterson’s deal and only take the top 4 avg, that tag would still be $11.1M. taking only the 5 year average of the 3rd RB would be $10.6M.

  • Darth Blount 47

    New England had over 60 million in cap space if I remember correctly. They’d have paid Bell in a heartbeat.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    If I’m being completely honest, I might trade our current stable of backs for New England’s. If bell gets hurt, we’re in trouble. The Pats have 4 or 5 decent guys. And they probably still take up less cap space then Bell. Lol

  • falconsaftey43

    They do have a very good RB situation. No stars, but probably 4 guys that can start legitimately. I really wanted us to sign Burkhead.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Husker Power! 😉

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Very true!

  • RickM

    No I respectfully disagree. They don’t even need him and Belichick never pays full market value. He let Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins both walk rather than pay them and N.E. still won the SB. There’s no way he would pay Bell 50% more than any other RB in the league. Especially with 2 knee injuries, a groin injury, a foot injury, 2 suspensions and 2 surgeries…all in just 4 years. N.E. would pass on Bell unless it was a very reasonable price.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Yes, R. Woodson was a mistake because (1) the Steelers needed a solid defense/secondary to overcome their lack of a franchise qb, and (2) star db’s were/are difficult to replace with anything resembling them without breaking the bank.

    Overpaying to keep Bell would be stacking talent on offense when you are (potentially) about to enter the qb doldrums again at a position where it is much easier to find a solid (albeit not Bell quality) player for relatively cheap.

    I’m not saying don’t sign Bell (I hope we do). I’m just saying don’t overpay. If I had to choose, I’d prefer to have a couple of good defenders locked up long-term (i.e., a Shazier and Tuitt) and keep Bell on the tag in the short term if that is the choice that I ultimately have to make. If I can get all of those long term without sacrificing the future of the defense, then that is what I want! But, not overpaying players is the key to getting to hold onto to more good players.

  • Ross McCorkle

    “Just like any college student, theres no bigger motivator than an impending deadline”

    If only school deadlines still set off that sense of urgency in my head. Senioritis is so real. Graduating in a few weeks!

  • D.j. Reynolds

    There were also a couple of big time RB’s on the market this year and none of them broke the bank as everyone expected.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Agree to disagree. I think when it comes to Offense, they go out and get the studs. You are correct, Belichick has often taken the approach with the D that he can mold himself some winners out of lesser forms of clay. But Brady takes a huge discount, precisely for guys like Bell to come aboard. A RB who can catch like that under Brady? I mean, Bill wouldn’t have had to go out and sign 4 different guys at the RB position like they did, just to try to fill the ranks. All he’d of had to do was pay Bell and then forget it. It’s the Ron Popeil special! “Set it and forget it!” Lol.

  • falconsaftey43

    Who?

  • RickM

    What player has “come on board” to the Patriots and received easily the highest salary at his position in the NFL? Not a single one. They don’t even have a player on their roster who is the highest paid guy at his position. Sorry Darth, but it goes against everything Belichick believes in and equally important everything that he has done year after year. He has made it clear that if you want to play for N.E. and win a SB, that comes with a price salary-wise. He’ll never over-pay. Any other team I’d agree with you. Just not this one.

  • Dorian James

    But that price ,for a RB? I know he’s great but that’s quite steep

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Adrian Peterson, L. Murray, Eddie Lacy, J. Charles, M. Lynch (though that likely was Oak. or no one), L. Blount (like him or not he produces), and R. Burkhead/M. Gillislee.

    I agree that none combine Bell’s age/talent but they got FAR less than anticipated in FA. And, in large part, that was due to the deep RB draft class as mentioned by Marcel Chris Chauvet.

    I don’t doubt Bell would have been the highest paid RB (by a lot) if he had entered FA, but I doubt it would have exceeded $12MM per year on a long term contract — and, if it did, I believe we should/should’ve let him go to the cap-rich losing record team that was willing to pay that.

  • falconsaftey43

    Peterson 32, Murray had less than 800 yards last year in 14 games, Lacy was coming off 2 poor seasons, Charles is done, Lynch wasn’t a FA, he was retired and still owned by Seattle, Blount is 31, Burkhead has barely played (375 career yards), Gillislee was a RFA and also barely played (865 career yards). Some good players in there, but none that expected to get paid big money, like you said. All positional markets are pretty top heavy (except seemingly WR). IDK hard to say what he would have gotten. I don’t think it would have been crazy, but I think it would easily have hit $12M. Just so much money out there, and Bell would have likely been considered the top FA available (or at least close to it).

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Maybe so. But at that point, that is when I would say “see ya” and take the 3rd round comp pick and save that cap space for a decent replacement + defense.

    For the Steelers at this stage, I just don’t think we should handicap ourselves with such a hefty cap hit ($12MM+) over a longer term. I prefer the flexibility of the franchise tag. $10MM per is my sweet-spot where I’d do it. Again, just my opinion and clearly many disagree.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’m ok (although I’d prefer him here longer) if they tag him again next year. I’d go up to 4 year $48M. Longer than that, and the average has to go down for me. Obviously takes two sides to get it done. Not long now…

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Though I think $48MM is too high, I wouldn’t cry or scream if it happened and I would trust the FO in having a plan. It might be a little sacrifice of future defensive power but I guess I could live with that for the short-term benefit of having the best RB in the league.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Would you risk a non-exclusive franchise tag next year? I would given the amount of that tag.

    Do you know, am I right that we could not transition tag him after franchising him this year?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Well, remember, this isn’t year 1 or even 5 or even 10 now, of the “Belichick Dynasty.” How much longer do you really think this is going to continue? How many years sans Brady, is Bill really gonna do this? No. I respectfully disagree. And this last off-season actually goes towards proving my case. They have been waaay more active in Free Agency and ditching draft picks in order to WIN NOW. Getting Bell away from us and on the Pats would have been the icing on their cake. The cherry on their sundae. The close-up, HD quality vid, on their spy sheet.

    It was almost as though they were so flushed with cash, they were just looking at ways to spend it. 60+ million to spend for a Super Bowl winning franchise?? Unheard of.

    Bill is 65 years old. I think he knows that it is all winding down. It’s time to move his chips towards the center of the table and call everyone’s bets. “All-In.” Is the new mantra of Belichick. He wants that record tying 6th Lombardi so bad he can taste it.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Oh, and I hate to crush your narrative, but you couldn’t be more incorrect. Let me count thy ways…

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’m kinda surprised you guys don’t have an open thread discussion for the Le’Veon Bell drama/saga/epic. The countdown is officially on… the 1 hour mark.

    Jason LaCanfora tweeted: “Steelers still locked in heavy negotiations w/ Le’Veon Bell. Expect it to go down to the wire. To me, RB would be silly not to do deal now…”

    “The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last!”

  • WreckIess

    La Canfora says he believes Bell would be “silly” not to deal now. Sounds like they might have something substantial on the table.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Clearly you and I are both refreshing Twitter till our fingers bleed and eyes bulge. Lol!

  • WreckIess

    That and constantly putting “Le’veon Bell” in the search bar. I’m dying for any news over here at this point.

  • Rocksolid20

    We all agree that Bell is good and we want him to stay .
    But let’s not sell the farm on this deal .

  • RickM

    Thank you for proving my point so well. In 17 years they have signed 1 non-New England player to a contract that COULD HAVE BEEN the largest salary for that position in the league, Darrele Revis. But they structured his contract so he actually wouldn’t be the highest paid. They paid him $12 Million in 2014 with an option to pay him $20 Million in 2015. And of course they did not renew the $20 Million option.

    So in other words there is not a single parallel to Bell in the last 17 years where he would be signed to a long-term deal and would (easily) be paid the most for his position. Not a single one. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Genuine kudos on the work. But it doesn’t refute either point I made: none of their current players are the highest paid in the league at their position; and they have never signed an external free agent to a contract that guarantees he is the highest player in the league. Le’Veon Bell definitely wouldn’t be interested in the smoke and mirrors limited Revis deal.

  • LucasY59

    interesting situation, my fear is that Bell wants too much $$$

    but what makes it even more uncertain is that what truly is TOO much???

    there is the rap song that says he wants to get paid 15 mil/yr and obviously that is too much

    there is the tag cap cost that they will pay if they dont get an extension done, 12 million (seems like a lot but is it too much? the team doesnt think so otherwise they wouldntve used the tag)

    there is the current devaluation of the RB position and the market that says 10 million is too much (but I HIGHLY doubt he will sign for anything less than that amount per yr)

    there is also the extension that AB just signed this offseason which gave him 17mil/yr in new $ and if AB is worth that much as the best WR in the league then what should the best RB be paid??? they have a lot more touches per game, and since Bell is also a great receiver as a RB shouldnt he be paid more than AB??? (I know the answer is NO, but looking at it from that perspective…kinda makes you rethink things at least a little)

    also there are some up and coming RBs in the league which might bring the market value of a top RB back up, guys like Devonta Freeman, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon and Zeke Elliott will be getting paid in the yrs to come and with the increase in the salary cap I doubt most of them will want the bargain >10 mil deals the recent RBs have been getting, so even though 10 mil would technically make Bell the highest paid RB that distinction might not last long

    the other things that really complicate the situation are the suspensions and injuries, but the production/talent of Bell kinda negate those things for me (but also keep me from saying PAY THE MAN…no matter what) I think they will have some affect in negotiations and that is why I think the Steelers have a hard line set at 12 mil and will not go over it (even if it means Bell plays this yr on the tag)

  • LucasY59

    what I want to see is a deal done in the 10-11 mil range, I think it is fair for both sides, and if it doesnt happen they might tag Bell next yr as well

    with about 10 mins before the deal has to be made it looks like the future for Bell might be shorter in Pittsburgh than many had hoped…

  • Darth Blount 47

    You missed Adalius Thomas. Who Belichick was quoted as saying:
    “…They backed up the Brink’s truck” to pay him.”

    But wasn’t your gist more so to the idea that New England isn’t willing to pay guys a lot of money? The top echelon? You said… ” Sorry Darth, but it goes against everything Belichick believes in and equally important everything that he has done year after year.” So wasn’t your point that it was philosophical of Bill to be frugal and prudent with their cap space? Unwilling to go to the top of the mark with players? I gave you example after example where they made a player the highest paid in the entire league at their respective positions.

    You also said: “What player has “come on board” to the Patriots and received easily the highest salary at his position in the NFL? Not a single one. They don’t even have a player on their roster who is the highest paid guy at his position.” Well, I just named 2. But can’t we both also agree that Tom Brady WOULD be the highest paid QB in the league, if not for his own choice of contract mumbo jumbo?

    I think you have to see that for the right players, Belichick is willing to… “Back up the Brinks truck.” I just don’t agree with your assertion that Bell somehow doesn’t qualify. But as always, I do respect your opinions. And this time, the last word is yours. Cheers.

  • RickM

    Saying they backed up the brinks truck to pay Thomas is great. I just I couldn’t confirm Thomas was the highest paid guy in the league at his position. I am not trying to be difficult but Bell wants far and away the best salary for a RB in the league. There has been no parallel on N.E. Add in Bell’s injuries and suspensions and Belichick would never consider giving him that kind of money.

    I am missing who you consider the two players on their current roster who are the highest paid in the league this year? Graham, Kelce and Reed all exceed Gronk. McCourty is about 5th. Brady is well back because he wants a competitive team. Who are you referring to?

  • TroymanianDevil

    No doubt, the division titles and 5-6 guaranteed wins let’s them get home field every year. I’ve said it many times before. Brady hasn’t won a road playoff game since 2006.

    But for me, don’t underestimate the discount. He signed a 3yr/27mil contract extension a few years ago. Whereas Flacco signed 3yr/66mil. Imagine how much any team, even the Browns, could do with an extra $39mil ( over 3 years ). Such a perfect storm of being super lucky for years and years and years and years.. and years

  • Darth Blount 47

    I was saying that at the time of their signings, they were the highest in the league at that time for their respective positions. Stephen Gostkowski is currently the highest paid Kicker in the NFL. And we ALL know Brady should be (QB).

    At the time the deals were signed, Malloy was the richest Safety. Adalius the highest LB. Wilfork the highest paid NT. Mankins the highest paid Guard. Mayo was only hundreds of thousands away from being the highest paid LB. Gronk was the highest paid TE in the league. Revis as you mentioned. And then McCourty was 2nd in APY, but 1st with a Safety RECORD 28.5 mill guaranteed. Which we all know, the guaranteed money is what counts the most!

  • Ed Smith

    Common sense and Le’Veon Bell are incompatible concepts.

    Remember: “imma need 15”.

    Mr. Bell, meet Mr. Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law). Mr. Bell, you better hope you don’t meet Mr. Murphy in the near future…

  • Andrew

    It’s not just a matter of overall cap space, but the position he plays. The shelve life isn’t long, he has made questionable decisions and has dealt with injuries. He isn’t worth 12 million a year. And looking at contracts, if he had 12, with AB’s 17, Ben’s 22ish, along with: 8.8, 10, 9.8, thats 80 million for just 6 players. Throw in Tuitt will be around 10-12 and Shazier will be around 9-11, Our cap would be critical in the near future. RB’s aren’t top paid players. We shouldn’t pay him that much.

  • jsteeler

    You are.

  • jsteeler

    your not paying him. Bell is worth every penny north of $9-12 mil per year.

  • jsteeler

    True

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I can live with that, but it doesn’t change my opinion.

  • You’re right on the AP effect – the growth of the cap faster than RB salary is really what makes the tag so high relative to players under contract. I think if the tag was $11.1M, the team might have had a better chance to re-sign him though since the floor for negotiation would have been lower.

    I have a little different number for using the 3rd RB salary.
    Here’s the 3rd highest cap number of RB in 2012-16

    7.7
    8.7
    9.6
    9.7
    9.48

    Average of those is 9.04. If you do the math as a % of salary cap, it’s 6.7% over those 5 years which would equate to $11.1M this year.