Now that the deadline has passed to sign Le’veon Bell to a long-term contract, the Steelers must decide what to do after the 2017 season. The team still has a few options, including franchising their superstar running back for another season. It may be time to switch gears though, and see if they can get something for Bell while they still can. The window for signing Bell is likely closed at this point. If he goes on and has another great season, the asking price will go even higher than the one the Steelers balked on this time around. If he were to get injured, or suspended again, would the team even want him around long-term at that point? The best option moving forward is to begin to feel around for offers after the season and get a trade done before the mess of a second franchise tag takes effect.
What can the Steelers get in return for trading arguably the best running back in the NFL? The closest comp possible for a trade of this magnitude is the Herschel Walker trade between the Cowboys and Vikings in 1989. Anyone not familiar with that deal would be shocked at the 5 players and 8 draft picks Dallas received in that deal. Included among those picks were three first rounders, three in the second, a third and a sixth round pick. It was an epic trade that changed the course of both franchises for years to come. Now a trade like that will probably never happen again to that extent. What could be matched is the impact it had on the franchise if played right by the Steelers.
It’s no secret Pittsburgh will be in the market for a new starting quarterback in the next few seasons. Ben Roethlisberger has made it clear his time in the NFL is drawing to a close. The Steelers could use Le’veon Bell to move into the top 10 in the draft, and take Roethlisberger’s sucsessor. The 2018 draft is thought to be loaded with potential franchise quarterbacks, perhaps the most in years. The timing could not be more perfect for the Steelers to retool at that position. It would allow the team to rebuild without the painful process of bottoming out. While on paper it’s not the haul the Cowboys got for Walker, getting the next franchise quarterback could have the same kind of impact. And by impact we are talking about three Super Bowl championships as a direct result of that trade. If the Steelers play their cards right, they could set themselves up for Super Bowl number 7 and beyond.