According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, both the Steelers and franchise RB Le’Veon Bell are motivated to get a long-term extension in place before the July 17 deadline. However, Schefter says there’s currently “no deal in sight” but the two parties are expected to make a push to get an agreement in place over the next few weeks.
At this point, Schefter believes it “could go either way.”
Dan Graziano of ESPN mentioned last week that the feeling around the NFL is that the $12.12 million Bell stands to make under the franchise tag this season is “well out of line with the rest of the market at his position.”
Graziano’s source believes Bell would do very to get an annual salary of over $10 million as part of a long-term deal.
Given that the Steelers would be looking at a 20 percent increase to franchise Bell again in 2018, Graziano says it’s unlikely Pittsburgh will go this route next year.
“Even if he gets $10 million a year, that’s 25 percent more than any other running back is making right now,” one front-office executive tells Graziano. “You’d have to call that a market-moving deal.”
In the end, Graziano suggests a four-year contract worth between $40-45 million with around $20 million guaranteed as a deal that would make sense for the two parties. This would allow Bell to make $28 million-to-$33 million worth of “new money” and around $8 million in new guarantees while bringing his annual salary to over $10 million.
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.
We’ll have more regarding Bell and the Steelers as the news is available.