Is it time for Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers to say Goodbye?


History, questionable behavior and contract demands make it likely this is Le’Veon Bell’s last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I’ve been a big supporter of Le’Veon Bell for years. Before he became a Pittsburgh Steeler. Back when he was hurdling safeties as a Spartan RB.

How times have changed! What’s changed? Gather around and, let me tell you the Tale of Le’Veon Bell.

Once upon a time, a 6’1, 245 Ib running back from Michigan State University was chosen in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He signed a rookie contract and became a Pittsburgh Steeler.

He put in effort, worked hard and shed some weight. Making himself lighter and quicker. He suffered a Lisfranc sprain, hyperextended knee and MCL injuries, costing him 11 games between 2013 and 2015.

In 2015 and 2016, he missed seven games due to suspensions for marijuana possession and violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Despite his trials and tribulations, he became a spectacular dual-threat back. In his first three seasons, Bell produced 4,045 yards and 24 TDs on the ground and, 227 receptions for 2,005 yards and 5 TDs through the air. Becoming a perennial All Pro.

Then came the 2016 season. Bell and the Steelers couldn’t hammer out a new deal. Resulting, in him being franchised tagged, holding out and ultimately signing a one year $11.5 million-dollar contract.

During his holdout, Bell created a social media storm on Twitter, Instagram and, whatever else. Even rap music. Complaining he was being overused and undervalued. And somewhere he got the notion it’s his responsibility to reset the running back market for those who follow.

Bell reported shortly before the first regular season game. He started slowly. Eventually got rolling and produced solid numbers (1,291 yards, nine TDs rushing; 85 receptions, 655 yards, two TDs receiving). However, his rushing yards per carry average dropped almost a full yard from the previous two seasons.

Then came the 2017 offseason. Deja vu (with a side of strip clubbing). Will Bell sign a new contract? Will the Steelers franchise him again? 45 million? 70 million? 10 million guaranteed? Too much drama!!

As it turned out. The Steelers franchised him. He’s holding out again. He’ll sign a one-year $14.5 million-dollar tag, just before kickoff of the opening regular season game. When the new season of “As the Steelers Turns” begins.

I recite this tale to illustrate what’s wrong with this situation. Somewhere, through this process, it became all about Le’Veon Bell. About what he wants. About selfishness. About greed. And less about the team and mates.

This attitude ruined team chemistry and played a significant role in last year’s underachievement. You can’t expect to demonstrate loyalty by gallivanting around (creating drama), while your mates prepare for war.

Well, what will the Steelers do next offseason? They certainly can’t franchise tag Bell a third time. Too cost prohibitive at $20 million for one season. It also appears the parties are at an impasse.

Who knows? Maybe Todd Gurley’s new contract might change things? Don’t hold your breath. Especially, since the LA Rams didn’t have franchise QB and franchise wide receiver contracts to factor in. I wonder if Bell might consider deferring some of the money?

The team can’t continue this rinse and repeat process. It’s time to turn the page. Heck, I’d even consider rescinding this year’s tag before Bell signs it.

So, as we begin another trip around the block. It’s time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to prepare for life after Le’Veon Bell.

The Steelers aren’t stupid. They began this process two years ago by drafting RB James Conner. They continued it by drafting Jaylen Samuels this year and, bringing in undrafted rookie Javrion Franklin. Savvy moves!

You say, three backs to replace one? I say yes! The benefits outweigh the loss of Bell. First, millions of dollars in cap space becomes available to sign better defensive players. We need talented line backers, ASAP. Second, without the distractions, team chemistry will improve.

The running back combination of James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Jarvion Franklin will lessen the sting of losing Le’Veon Bell. Trust me. There’s a method to the madness. Each running back was taken for a different purpose.

James Conner was taken to carry the rushing load. Provided, he stays healthy, he will be a solid performer. He’s a big (6’2, 235 Ibs), powerful back, who showed flashes in limited action last season. He was a very productive Pitt Panther, rushing for 3,733 yards and 52 TDs in mostly three seasons. He was the featured back there. Until he missed time fighting cancer. This season he should be bigger and stronger. Hopefully, back to his pre-cancer form.

Jaylen Samuels was taken to carry the receiving load. He’s Mr. Versatility. Lining up at TE, FB, RB and maybe WR. No doubt, Coach Fichtner will use multiple formations. Placing him in positions where he’s most lethal. At 6’0, 225 Ibs, he has good speed and great hands. He too, was very productive in college. Catching 201 passes for 1,851 yards and 19 TDs for North Carolina State.

Jarvion Franklin is another big back. At 6’0, 239 Ibs, he’ll be the short yardage guy. He’s a tackle-breaking power runner with surprisingly good hands. At Western Michigan University, he rushed for 4,867 yards and 52 TDs and caught 61 passes for 670 yards and 4 TDs. Definitely not a one trick pony!

Neither are the other running backs. Conner caught 30 passes for 412 yards and four TDs at Pitt. While Samuels rushed for 1,107 yards and 28 TDs for the Wolfpack.

Believe me. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back situation is in good hands. It’s time to say adios to Mr. Bell. No question, he’s a great talent. But his history of injuries, suspensions, questionable behavior and contract demands means he’s no longer worth the risk.

He doesn’t understand that his production is directly tied to an offense tailored to his skill set. It took the Steelers years to draft the right personnel for their system. So, Bell relocating to another team doesn’t necessarily translate into similar success (ask Jerome Bettis).

Over the past two seasons, the Steelers have prepared for losing Bell, By acquiring talented players, who fit their system. They just need to get these players game experience before next season.

Then move forward! Sure, there will be hiccups and growing pains. But in the end it will all work out.

Next. Fantasy expectations for Bell in 2018. dark

It’s time to end the drama. Send Dorothy back to Kansas. Lose the headache. Wish him well. Thank him for his service. And let Le’Veon Bell go.