It’s finally over. The deadline has passed, and Le’Veon Bell will never again play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The seemingly endless saga is over….. or is it? The Steelers have a few options going forward when it comes to what to do next with Bell. Let’s review what the Steelers can, or should do with their former All-Pro running back.
1. Let him walk:
The easiest, and most likely scenario is the Steelers just allow Bell to go to free agency. No tags, no drama, just sit back and collect the third round compensation pick once he signs with another team. Knowing how this team operates, this course of action would surprise no one. After all who could blame them? This past season has been exhausting for everyone involved.
2. Transition anyone??:
The Pittsburgh Steelers could use the transition tag in this situation. There are some pros and cons to this approach. The transition tag allows Bell to negotiate a contract with any team in the league. The Steelers would then have the right to match any contract offered to Bell. The downside to this is that if they decided not to match, there would be no compensation for the Steelers. The only way I see the team going this route is if they really believe Bell has killed his value by skipping the season. That’s not very likely given my “there’s too many dumb GM/owners in this league” theory. It also assumes the Steelers would be willing to take Le’Veon back if the contact were right. I think that ship has sailed, and this team is more than ready to move on.
3. Feeling Lucky?:
There are two types of franchise tags, exclusive and non-exclusive. If the Steelers were to use the non-exclusive tag, teams would be free to negotiate a contract with Bell. The kicker is they would then be required to give the Steelers two first round picks in exchange for signing Bell. I know what you’re thinking, no way any team would give two first round picks for Le’veon Bell. Are we sure about this? The bar has been set for acquiring top tier talent when the Bears gave up two first round picks for Khalil Mack. If I were Kevin Colbert, this is the route I’d be taking. Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I dig deeper into this possibility.
4. Doomsday scenario:
This is the option nobody wants to consider. The Steelers could in fact use the exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell. They would then be looking at a tag number in the $20-$25 million range. Sounds crazy right? If this team were the go for broke type of franchise, we might even think about it. The whole “championship window is closing” theory doesn’t seem to bother the Steelers brass in the least. We all started to think how much fun it could be to use Le’Veon Bell in all kinds of ways to make this offense even more dangerous. Alas this is never, ever going to happen. No way the Steelers want any part of the drama, or the salary it would take to go in this direction.