The only reason Le’Veon Bell won’t get $14.5 million is because the Pittsburgh Steelers no longer want him.
The magic number in the case of signing Le’Veon Bell has bounced around quite a bit. Starting with somewhere near 14 million, then moving up to 17 million, then back down to 15 million, and now reportedly at 14.5 million. If these reports are true, and the running back is comfortable taking a deal worth as much as his franchise tag, there’s no reason he isn’t signed by the July 16 deadline.
Pittsburgh has been waiting for a reasonable number for two years. Bell has been trying to reset the market for running backs, but has tried a little too hard. $17 million isn’t a realistic number in 2018.
Although it could be next season, there was no way the Steelers were handing him anything more than his franchise tag. But, now that he’s asking for nothing more than what he’ll already make this season, Pittsburgh should already be drawing up the contract to place in front of him.
Unless they don’t want to. Accept it or not, Bell has made a lot of negative publicity in Pittsburgh this offseason. It’s hard to call out an entire fanbase twice, one being in a song, and still find love.
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert may have had enough of Bell’s antics. Whether he’s the best running back in the league or not, it’s hard to be loved when you’re constantly making it known you don’t appreciate the people around you.
On the same hand, it’s early. These reports have just come out and whether or not they’re 100% accurate isn’t known by anyone but Bell himself. This could be a bit of an exaggeration and maybe Bell isn’t settling for anything less than $15 million. Not that it’s much farther off, but that half a million dollars could be the difference between Pittsburgh being okay with a deal and waiting it out.
Either way, Bell is getting his money in 2019. Whether it’s in Pittsburgh, or with another franchise, he’ll be the highest paid running back in the NFL by next summer. But if he’s only asking for $14.5 million, this team, like him or not, should jump on the opportunity to secure him for the next four years.
It comes down to how much this team really wants to keep the “villain” around. The fanbase will love him on the field whether they like him off it or not. That means it’s up to the coaches and front office to decide how much they really want him to stay. Because if 14.5 is the magic number, Le’Veon Bell should already be a Steeler.