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2018 Offseason Questions: Does WR Market Make Bell Sound Less Crazy?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Is Le’Veon Bell worth what the wide receivers are getting on this market?

It’s important to keep in mind the number of factors that are at work while discussing perceptions about Le’Veon Bell’s value, relative to anything else. There are some who think he’s an overrated talent who is already showing signs of decline. There are some who think running backs simply are not worth eight-figure deals. There are some who just don’t want the Steelers to be the one to pay Bell what he’s worth.

In light of some of yesterday’s intention-to-sign announcements, however, it’s easy to think about his situation. The big deal many have connected him to was the contract that Sammy Watkins reportedly agreed to. He’s expected to sign a three-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that is worth $16 million.

Earlier this offseason, Mike Evans signed a contract that projects to pay him $16.5 million per season. Jarvis Landry’s franchise tag is worth roughly $16 million. Just before the start of last season, DeAndre Hopkins signed a contract paying him $16.2 million per season. The Broncos picked up Demaryius Thomas’ option on a deal that pays him $14 million per season, while others like Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and of course, Antonio Brown, make more than that.

Allen Robinson reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $42 million, or $14 million per season. Marqise Lee is staying in Jacksonville for $9.5 million. Paul Richardson signed for $8 million per season.

Where does Bell fit relative to the values of these contracts?

Bell averaged more receiving yards per game in 2017 than Watkins did with the Los Angeles Rams last year. He has averaged less than 60 yards per game for his career with 25 total touchdowns in 52 games. Yet he was just given a contract worth $16 million per season.

I could certainly understand why Bell might feel slighted when he looks around the league and sees the sorts of contracts that wide receivers who are less accomplished than he is are signing.

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