Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the Steelers’ offer to franchise RB Le’Veon Bell would have paid him an average salary of $12 million per year with $30 million being paid out in the first two years.
- Bell would have made $42 million over the first three years of this agreement, but he ultimately decided to play out the season under the franchise tag, which guarantees him $12.1 million for the 2017 season.
- Pelissero points out that the Steelers don’t include guarantees in future years of their contract offers, which may have been why Bell wanted to take the guaranteed money this year and see where talks are in 2018.
- According to Ian Rapoport, the Steelers’ offer was believed to be a five-year deal, which means the total value would be over $60 million.
Either way, that’s a huge contract based on what running backs make in the NFL, so Bell is clearly betting on himself to have another big season for Pittsburgh before once again being in position to test the open market.
Yesterday, Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that while it’s “frustrating” to not get a long-term extension in place before today’s deadline, he still understands it’s a business and he feels he’s worth more than what Pittsburgh is currently offering him.
“It’s a little frustrating, but it’s a business,” said Bell. “I’m not in a rush to sign for something I’m not valued at, if I feel I’m worth more than what they are offering me.”
Bell says he plans to take it upon himself to show that the running back position is more valuable than what team’s have been paying players.
“The running back market definitely took a hit, and I can’t be the guy who continues to let it take a hit,” Bell said. “We do everything. We block, we run, we catch the ball. Our value isn’t where it needs to be. I’m taking it upon myself to open up some eyes and show the position is more valuable.”
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert released a statement earlier in the day saying that they plan to pick up contract talks next year.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell prior to today’s deadline,” said Colbert. “Le’Veon is scheduled to play this year under the Exclusive Franchise Tag designation. We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season.”
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.