Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell created quite a stir on the interwebs a few days ago when he released his latest rap single “Focus” that included him somewhat insinuating that he is looking for a new contract this offseason that will pay him $15 million a year. If indeed that is Bell’s asking price, it is reportedly news to the Steelers.
“The Steelers, as it happens, did not know this,” Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote on Wednesday, “But as one front-office source speaking on condition of anonymity for reasons too obvious to even state told me, ‘”I guess we do now.”’
Several weeks ago, Bell, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, said that he wants to make sure he’s fully recovered from last year’s knee injury before getting too deep into contract extension talks with the Steelers.
“I just want to make sure my knee’s good,” Bell said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “Make sure everything’s straight before all that comes about.”
With the start of Steelers training camp now just over three weeks away, it will be very interesting to hear what Bell has to say to the media about his recent presumed contract wants when he reports to Latrobe with the rest of his teammates on July 28. Additionally, it will also be interesting to see whether or not he’s healthy enough at that point to avoid the team’s Active PUP list. If not, there’s a good chance that the Steelers running back might be forced to work on the side the entire time the team is at Latrobe with hopes he can be ready to go by the start of the 2016 regular season. Regardless of whether or not Bell practices fully or plays during the preseason in the coming weeks and months, I still fully expect he and the Steelers will talk very soon about a long-term extension.
A few days ago, I wrote about how I thought Bell’s perceived want to be the league’s highest paid running back at $15 million a year was way too ambitious and after reading that post the running back called me “clueless” on Twitter. While many now probably see me as being a Bell hater as a result of that post, it is indeed the furthest thing from the truth. I love Bell and recognize that he is one of the best all-around running backs currently in the league. With that said, his two knee injuries combined with league speculation as to what the franchise tag for running backs will be in 2017 and 2018 left me no choice but to estimate his current market value as being just north of $10 million a season (new money average), which by the way would still result in him being the second highest paid in the NFL at his position.
Not that it means anything, but I am certainly not alone in my long-standing assessment of Bell’s current market value as NFL analysts Adam Caplan and Herm Edwards both said as much during the Tuesday edition of “NFL Live” on ESPN. Caplan suggested that $10-12 million per year is the absolute most Bell will get. Could Bell ultimately get a four-year extension that totals $50 million over five years, which would result in a new money average of roughly $12.25 million a season? Sure he could, however, I just can’t see that final number coming close to $15 million just the same.
On Tuesday, Bell was asked on Twitter by one of his followers if he was going to leave us (the Steelers) and he replied with a “never.” While never is a very long time, I truly believe that he wants to play his entire career in Pittsburgh as long as he’s treated fairly when it comes to his monetary compensation. I hope he does. With that said, I personally do not believe he should discuss anything related to his contract wants with the media, on social media, or in any of his songs. Sure, maybe his latest reference to needing 15 a year wasn’t related to his contract at all. With that said, it’s easy for “clueless” blahgers such as myself to speculate that it was. It’s what I do and especially at this time of the dead offseason.
As far as the Steelers not knowing that Bell is looking for $15 million a season prior to a few days ago, it looks like they do now. Maybe I’m not the only one that’s clueless when it comes to Bell.