With free agency in full swing and the NFL draft just over a month away, the Pittsburgh Steelers are putting their contract talks with Le’Veon Bell on hold.
For those looking for a quick resolution to a new contract between the reigning AFC North champions and the team’s star running back, it appears disappointment is on the horizon.
Over the past week, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally decided to wade into the free agency pool in terms of acquiring veteran talent. A few days after adding journeyman inside linebacker Jon Bostic, late of the Indianapolis Colts, general manager Kevin Colbert struck a deal with Green Bay Packers’ strong safety Morgan Burnett.
Those are solid additions but the team still has a lot of work to do when it comes to fixing their defensive unit. In fact, there’s a lot of work to do overall when it comes to all 32 franchises. And as of Sunday, March 25, the 2018 NFL Draft is only 32 days away.
And that explains why ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Steelers and All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will put talk of a new deal on hold while the Black and Gold concentrates on more pressing matters.
"“We’re not intentionally ignoring that,” said Colbert in Orlando at the NFL owners meeting. “More urgent business needs to get taken care of. We will reassess where that is. He’ll reassess where his interests are as well. I anticipate us continuing that process once we get through the free agency period and maybe even through the draft. The draft can change things on both sides.”"
For the second straight year, Bell was given the exclusive “franchise” tag. Both parties seek a long-term deal but things have not progressed to date. And with the draft on the way, that obviously takes priority.
A year ago, the five-year pro skipped all of training camp and the preseason. He responded by finishing second in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (1,946) and touched the football a combined 406 times rushing (321) and receiving (85). But that’s not necessarily an overall plan the team would like to see repeated.