Adisa Bakari, the agent for Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell, said that the report they turned down a five-year, $70 million contract from Pittsburgh is not accurate.
“No matter what that final number was and I am certainly not saying that what has been reported is accurate because it’s not, quite frankly — the most important element of it is the guarantee,” Bakari said. “You couple that with the traditional way in which Pittsburgh does it’s deals, which, at the end of the day, nothing’s guaranteed after the first year.”
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According to Ian Rapoport, the Steelers’ final offer to franchise RB Le’Veon Bell was a five-year contract worth $70 million and included $30 million paid out in the first two years of the agreement.
Rapoport adds that the Steelers’ offer to Bell last year was a five-year, $60 million offer, so they improved the contract by around $10 million.
Instead, Bell opted to play out the 2018 season under the franchise tag, which will pay him $14.5 million guaranteed.
Bell and his agent have made it clear that 2018 is likely to be his final season in Pittsburgh.
“His intention was to retire as a Steeler,” Bakari told Adam Schefter. “But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.
“It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player.”
Earlier in the day, Adam Schefter of ESPN mentioned during an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio that he thinks it’s a possibility that Bell could sit out the first half of the 2018 season if they can’t get a long-term deal done before today’s deadline.
“I think it’s possible Le’Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn’t get a long-term deal done,” Schefter said, per Ross Tucker.
Schefter added that Bell is focused on reaching free agency in 2019, as opposed to handling another large workload.
“The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches,” Schefter said.
Bell, 26, 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 the free agent market when he was franchised.
The Steelers used the franchise tag on Bell again this offseason, which means he stands to make $14.5 million fully guaranteed for the 2018 season before testing the open market as an unrestricted free agent next year.
In 2017, Bell has appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and rushed for 1, 291yards on 321 carries (4 YPC) to go along with 85 receptions for 655 yards receiving and 11 total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 9 running back out of 58 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 25 – 2019 NFL Free Agents list.