After being unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal, Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers may have some tension heading into the 2017 season.
With Bell now playing the 2017 season under the $12.12 million franchise tag, he enters an unknown territory for both the Pittsburgh Steelers and himself. As much as both parties would have loved to get a deal done, neither party could make each other happy, forcing the back to play under the tag.
Unfortunately, this leaves problems for Bell and the Steelers agreeing on a deal in 2018 as well. Pittsburgh, who will have 42 restricted and unrestricted free agents next offseason, will only have $31,937,575 in salary cap space.
If Bell was the only superstar looking for a new deal next offseason, Pittsburgh might be okay. But along with the running back, the Steelers will need to sign Stephon Tuitt, Ross Cockrell, Alejandro Villanueva, Eli Rogers, and a ton of other players. That’s no easy task when the most important name on that list is looking for more than $12 million a year and a ton of guaranteed money.
Then, there is the issue of Bell being upset with the team. After not signing, it’s understandable for him to be upset, but Bell made it clear on Twitter that he felt disrespected by the Steelers for not reaching a deal in time.
This could hurt when these two sides try to negotiate next offseason. According to the ESPN’s Ian Rapoport, the team made Bell an offer worth over $12 million a year. The issue was that Bell wanted guaranteed money and Pittsburgh doesn’t give anything more than a hefty signing bonus.
So, now Pittsburgh needs to someone come up with an offer better than already paying Bell nearly $4 million more than any running back in the NFL, and convince him that he doesn’t need guaranteed money.
On top of that, the franchise tag next year will be over $14 million, which could make it even harder for Pittsburgh to please Bell. If more than $12 million wasn’t good enough, and Bell could make $14 million next season, chances are he’s not going to be too willing to budge on his negotiations.
It’s not pleasing to hear, but there is a possibility Bell doesn’t get a deal done for the next two years, if ever. Pittsburgh may not be willing to work with someone who isn’t willing to compromise, and as they’ve proven in the past, they won’t think twice about moving on from a player.
Both parties are hoping to work something out right now. The concern lays in next offseason. If Bell wants to make ridiculous money, he may not be in the right spot, and Pittsburgh is eventually going to tell him that.
Hopefully, something gets done before they do.