There’s no cap hit, it’s another trade piece and worst case this team has another running back. Transition tagging Le’Veon Bell only makes sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After the most drama-filled year in Pittsburgh Steelers history, the team and it’s fans are looking to rid the city of anything to do with the word “diva.” Top of that list includes possibly the team’s best two players – Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, but neither will find a new home in free agency.
Antonio Brown is getting traded. Most likely. At this point, he’s called out his quarterback, complained about Art Rooney II never inviting him over for dinner and has made it very clear he wants nothing to do with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Le’Veon Bell tried to find a new home last season but ended up sitting the year out after not receiving the contract offer he was hoping for the last two offseasons. Now, chances are he’s done negotiating with the team, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to sign somewhere new.
The Steelers have the option to transition tag Bell, placing a hold on him during free agency. Other teams can offer the running back a contract but Pittsburgh has the final option to match whatever offer is given to Bell.
Whether or not they’ll utilize this option will come with the price. Pittsburgh may not believe Bell is going to earn the $60 million contract he desires, and if they’re right, they’ll only have to compete with an offer that’s reasonably around their own from last offseason.
At this point things become interesting. If Bell can sign a contract other teams wouldn’t mind taking on, he gains significant trade value. The market for a running back is high, but it’s even higher when he’s the best duel-threat back in the NFL.
If the fans could receive the compensation they’ve deemed worthy for Antonio Brown, they’d be shipping him to San Francisco for the second-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Say Brown is moved, the pick is not Pittsburgh and all of a sudden, they’re working overtime to try and find a suitor for Bell.
If Antonio Brown is worth a first-round pick, Le’Veon Bell is worth the same, and maybe more.
A contract teams can handle, only 27-years-old by the start of the season and has no baggage from one final year in Pittsburgh. He may not be the best wide receiver of his generation but Bell was considered a top three runner only a year ago. We didn’t see him play to judge any differently, so until August his status remains right where it was last January.
Keeping Bell gives the Steelers the NFL’s two biggest trade pieces. Thinking optimistically, this turns a team who’s about to lose their start wideout and running back into a team with two first-round draft picks and a top five back on the trading block.
There’s no point in not transition tagging Bell. If best-case-scenario leaves them that stacked in draft picks then why not take a chance on trading the runner? Four months later, if no one wants him, Pittsburgh has a backfield of James Conner and Le’Veon Bell. In today’s league, that’s keeping their ground game competitive.