Le’Veon Bell was quoted recently saying he and the Steelers are “a lot closer than last year” on getting a multi-year contract done. This has many fans and media optimistic that the two sides might actually get this done before the July 16th deadline. To this I say…..I’ll believe it when I see it. We heard the same sort of rhetoric from Bell last year right around this time. Nothing got done last year, and nothing is likely to get done again this year either.
Even if we are to believe the reports that Bell has lowered his contract demands from $17 million per year down to $14.5, that’s still not in the Steelers ball park. There’s no way the team is going to pay nearly double what the next running back makes. As of right now, Devonta Freeman is the highest paid running back in the league earning $8.2 million average per season. The running back position has steadily declined in terms of salary over the past few years. That’s just a fact of life in today’s pass-happy NFL.
At this point, it may be foolish to sign any kind of long-term deal with Le’veon Bell. He’s had more touches than just about any other offensive player over the past few seasons. Add that to the fact that Bell has a history of being injured, and devoting large chunks of money to him is simply a very risky proposition. This has to be a factor in Kevin Colbert’s mind as he considers any contract with his talented running back. Injuries, drug suspensions, and work load are all factors working against Bell during these negotiations.
Nobody doubts the talents of Le’Veon Bell. His assertion that he should be paid like a receiver as well as a running back may have some merit. The Steelers clearly acknowledged that by offering him a contract worth a reported $12.5 million per season last July. A deal that his agent allegedly accepted, only to have Bell turn it down. These two sides have been negotiating on and off for over two years now. Nothing significant has changed recently to make me believe a deal is close to happening. Both sides have made all the concessions their going to make, and if a deal was to be made it would’ve happened by now. Steelers fans need to enjoy this season of Le’Veon Bell, because it will be his last in Pittsburgh.