Contract drama between the Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le’Veon Bell is nothing new. There could finally be a resolution on the horizon.
No one can argue that Le’Veon Bell isn’t a massive part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive success. What can be argued, is how much he’s going to be worth over the next few seasons. That’s been the issue between Bell and the Steelers for quite some time.
There may finally be some reason for optimism for Steelers fans. If you listen to Bell, he and the team are closer to agreeing to a long-term contract than ever before. The prolific rusher recently told reporters that he has “confidence” that a new deal will get done.
There’s no reason not to take Bell at his word. He’s been open with the media and fans about contract negotiations with the Steelers at every turn. Bell has made no secret of his desire to get paid or his preference to remain in Pittsburgh if at all possible.
It’s quite possible the Steelers are getting more serious about negotiations because they are running out of time. They have the option to place the franchise tag on Bell again this season, but that would allow him to hit the open market next summer. That would allow Bell to leave the Steelers in a similar fashion to how Kirk Cousins departed Washington.
The real issue for the Steelers will be how many years of guaranteed money they’re comfortable giving Bell. He’s only going to be 26-years-old this season but there are a lot of miles on his tires. His yards per carry average dropped almost a full yard from 2016 to 2017. That could be a blip on his career radar, but it could also signal a drop in his effectiveness as a runner. The Steelers’ front office will need to determine which is true before signing him to a long-term deal.
Even if he loses a bit of juice as a runner, his ability to boot the Steelers’ passing game still makes him an elite offensive weapon. Pittsburgh should feel comfortable giving Bell big money for at least two or three more seasons. Don’t be surprised to see a significant contract get signed prior to Week 1.