Steelers franchise RB Le’Veon Bell tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that he feels he should be valued as a player and what he brings to an offense, as opposed to just a running back.
“I feel I should be valued as a player, not so much my position,” Bell said. “Hopefully down the line I can get valued at, not as much a guy who gets the ball 30 carries and that’s it.”
“I make plays in the passing game, blocking, doing everything,” Bell added. “I’m arguably the top running back in the NFL and the No. 2 receiver on the Steelers, even though I play running back. Their career receiving total vs. mine, they don’t have more yards than me.”
Reports surfaced shortly after the deadline to negotiate with franchise players came and went on Monday that Bell turned down a five-year contract worth over $60 million with $30 million being paid out in the first two years of the agreement.
Bell admits that he walked away from a lot of money.
“More money than you’ve ever seen in your life, it’s hard to walk away from it,” Bell said. “At the same time, I’ve never had that amount of money for 25 years.”
According to Bell, it’s nothing personal against the Steelers, but he knows it’s a business and likes the position he’s currently in.
“I understand from [the Steelers’] side it’s not personal against me; it’s all business,” Bell said. “It’s not personal with them, either. I’m trying to do what’s best for me and my family.
“I like the position I’m at right now. I’m going to play football.”
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.