Le’Veon Bell complimented the Steelers for trying to get a deal done with him, but the truth is Pittsburgh never made him a serious contract offer.
The Steelers talked a good game about wanting to keep Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh for years to come, but the team’s actions told a very different story. The ugly truth of the negotiations between the two sides is that the Steelers never made Bell an offer worth considering.
At first glance, the news that Pittsburgh offered Bell $70 million over five years sounds pretty good. That wasn’t quite the average annual value the talented running back was looking for, but it was certainly in the ballpark.
At the very least, it sounds like the type of deal Bell should have considered signing.
As more details about the team’s offer emerge, the offer they made Bell starts to look pretty ugly. The only guaranteed money in the proposed deal was the $10 million signing bonus.
Bell would’ve had the opportunity to make up to $45 million over the first three years of the deal, but the Steelers could have parted ways with him with zero salary cap implications.
When you consider the fact that Bell is guaranteed over $14.5 million on the franchise tag it’s easy to see why a deal didn’t get done. Accepting Pittsburgh’s offer would have cost their dynamic rusher almost five million in guarantees this season.
That almost certainly wouldn’t have come into play if Bell stayed healthy, but it could have been costly if he suffered a serious injury.
Perhaps the front office could have convinced Bell to make that sort of concession in 2018 by guaranteeing money in future years. They clearly made zero effort to do so. As such, it’s fair to question just how much the Steelers really wanted to keep Bell in the fold.
Frankly, the Steelers should be pleased that Bell didn’t make details of the negotiations available to the public immediately. Doing so certainly would have made the franchise look bad.
Bell hasn’t been a perfect teammate in Pittsburgh, but he’s been one of the most productive running backs in football. The position isn’t paid the way it used to be, but lowballing Bell wouldn’t have been well received by Steelers fans hoping to make a Super Bowl in the next few years.
What we’ve learned here is that the Pittsburgh Steelers decided Bell was a luxury they could no longer afford. That’s why they made him a weak contract offer. They didn’t give their star player any reason decision to make.