There’s light, and life, for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the Le’Veon Bell tunnel

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Le'Veon Bell /

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ future won’t include Le’Veon Bell. But the light at the tunnel is present, and bright.

On July 16th at 4:01pm the collective narrative for the Steelers’ future was painted. On July 16th the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell failed to agree to a long-term deal making the future almost set in stone that after this season – Le’Veon Bell would move on from the black and gold and go to a team willing to give him more guaranteed money.

Many think that with an aging quarterback and losing a once in a generation talent at the running back position the Steelers best chance is this season to win a Super Bowl. I could not disagree more.

Yes, losing a Bell does not make your team better. Losing such a great runner, pass catcher and pass blocker does not make your team better. I get the concerns, but this is only one side of building a team. When Bell moves on so does his huge price tag. Bell commands a lot of money that could be added back to the team’s overall payroll, not just on one side of the ball and or one position.

Losing Bell is not a good thing but I’m here to tell you the glass is half full Steeler fans. Having so much extra money, a lot of extra money, from shedding Bells contract while also adding that Shazier hit will be off the books next season, the Steelers could be players in free agency for the first in years.

More from Steelers News

Yes, this is not the Steeler way, but they have dipped in to get a big-time name before at the same position in free agency when the Steelers signed former Eagles’ running back Duce Staley in 2004. Another free agent running back that the Steelers signed that made a huge impact was DeAngelo Williams. In his first season played 16 games with the Steelers and had just shy of 1,000 yards on the same team with Le’Veon. I think this is what proves my point.

Williams is was not the same level of talent as Bell. However, he was a good fit for the offense and they were able to keep the train moving forward when Bell was limited to playing in just 6 games.

I do not think the Steelers will go into free agency and sign a starting running back, but if they do the name to look for is Tevin Coleman of the Atlanta Falcons. Coleman was drafted in the third-round out of Indiana and is going into his fourth season. His development has been blocked by one of the better running backs in the league with Devonta Freeman jumping off and becoming a bell cow for the Falcons.

I do believe that the Steelers would be wise to look at Coleman because he has all the tools to be a great runner in this league. With 4.3 speed, catching out of the backfield and running between the tackles, to me, he could be just the answers they are looking for.

But the thing that best would link the Steelers and Coleman is the little price tag he will command.

The Steelers could get Coleman at a discounted rate being that he has never been the primary guy. He would be more expensive than a rookie but has NFL experience and can make an impact day one.

The more probably route would be to add someone within the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Yes, the new season is not upon us and I am going to bring up the NFL draft for 2019, because let’s be honest, it is never too early to talk NFL Draft.

One name that I look forward to seeing this year and on the Steelers 1st round draft board is Bryce Love out of Stanford. Listed as 5’10 198 lbs, he is on the smaller side but can catch the ball out of the backfield as well been very productive at a great football program having over 2,100 yards last season with 19 touchdowns.

Let’s not forget the People we have on the roster now. I think that James Connor is a great story and shows that he can be a good three running back with fridge second running back depth at this time.

Could he prove me wrong this season? Sure, but I still think his upside is a backup. The guy on the roster that I am most excited about and think he can be a great step in next year, with maybe another free agent signing or draft pick, is Jaylen Samuels.

Samuels was the 5th round pick or the Steelers in this draft and to me the tape and the stats make me scratch my head to why he was selected in the fifth-round? To me, he should have been a third-round or higher. Missing in the first three rounds is what can separate you from the Browns and well the Steelers so I can see why some might have passed on him. Samuels is labeled as a jack of all trades but a master of none.

Samuels had 47 touchdowns and leads off players at NC State in receiving yards and he’s a running back. Let me say this again, a running back has the all-time receiving yards out of NC State. That is a crazy sub-note.

What does this tell us? Samuels can catch the ball which is huge. Some say that Samuels only gives what the blockers give him and nothing more. Is that ideal? No, but I think he can develop better vision and the fact that you can line him up in the slot or bunch him with wide receivers and get him the ball in open space to me makes him a huge addition this year. He also has all year to learn to fight for a starting spot next year.

It has been no surprise in the NFL as of late that third-round and later guys have made day one impacts on NFL teams. I think that Samuels has the upside to be that type of guy next season.

I have talked about how to replace the running back, and yes, everyone I listed is not better than Le’Veon, or potentially better. But all listed options carry a much lower price tag then Bell. The extra value in moving on from Bell and by not giving him a hefty raise is the extra money you can spend on upgrading the defense and other key parts to building a more complete team.

This is important very important to building a championship roster. With this new found cap space, the Steelers might be able to sign an impact inside linebacker, or possibly, if the Steelers do switch to a true 4-3 defense as a base D that has been talked about in training camp, sign a true seven-technique defensive end, instead of using a stand-up outside linebacker. They could add much-needed depth to the offensive line, as Roman foster will probably move on and they will insert B.J. Finney as the starter taking from the very thin depth they currently have.

Next. 30 greatest Steelers in franchise history. dark

This season, the Steelers have a great shot at making a Super Bowl run. But is it the last best chance? No. It’s the last chance with the Bell, Brown, Ben era, and an exciting season to watch. The glass is half full, Steeler fans. Going into next offseason, with a lot of options and a lot of room the play around for one of the best general managers in the game, to me that makes the “The Last Best Chance” many years away.