Beyond that, Bell would have averaged $13 million per year over the first three years of the contract but Bell never signed the deal before the deadline to negotiate with franchise players passed.
La Canfora says that both the NFLPA and Bell’s advisors considered the deal to be “incredibly strong” for him, but they knew there was no guarantee that Bell was going to sign the contract.
Bell is reportedly seeking $15 million or more per year as part of a long-term deal in order to push the end of the of the market back up to where Adrian Peterson had it during his time with the Vikings.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a few weeks ago that Bell turned down a five-year contract that his agent agreed to with the Steelers at the last minute before the deadline to negotiate with franchise players.
Sources told Bouchette that the five-year deal would have averaged over $12 million per year and would have paid him over $30 million in the first two years of the agreement.
These figures are consistent with a report from Tom Pelissero of NFL Media.
Bouchette’s sources have said that Bell wants to average $15 million per year as part of a long-term deal. However, even with a 20 percent increase next year, tagging Bell for a second straight season would still cost the Steelers less than $15 million.
Bouchette says Pittsburgh was “baffled” by Bell’s decision to pass on the deal.
The Steelers have said that they plan to pick up contract talks with Bell next year.
Bell, 25, is a former second-round pick of the Steelers back in 2013. He played out the final year of his four-year, $4,120,600 rookie contract that included a $1,376,800 signing bonus and was in position to be one of the best players in this year’s free agent market.
In 2016, Bell appeared in 12 games and running for 1,268 yards on 261 carries (4.9 YPC) to go along with 75 receptions for 616 yards receiving and three nine total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 1 running back out of 62 qualifying players.