The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Le’Veon Bell
Position: Running Back
Experience: 4 Years
What can you really say about Le’Veon Bell on the football field that would be taken seriously in terms of criticism? There is very little that he can’t do at a high level. Generally the only critique that I see is that he doesn’t have the league’s best breakaway speed.
But that wouldn’t really seem to matter a great deal if you’re still averaging five yards per carry without the heavy dose of explosive runs. It would certainly be nice to see a few more long runs from Bell next year, and maybe a couple of long-distance touchdowns to boot—he almost had one against Miami in the playoffs—but that is like knocking a Shakespeare script for a couple of typos.
It’s a pretty easy argument to make that Le’Veon Bell is the most complete running back in the NFL. Nobody else in the league possesses his full range of abilities as a runner, pass-catcher, and blocker all together as one, and no other offensive player outside of the quarterback position in the league last year shouldered as heavy a load as he did in the second half of the season.
The Steelers turned to Bell on the ground after getting off to a 4-5 start in their first nine games. They then won nine games in a row, with Bell being the common denominator in all of them short of the regular-season finale, during which he rested.
There are some questions about his future of two varieties. What is his long-term future with the Steelers? What should be taken away from his injury history? From his past suspensions? Is he being overworked?
These are all questions the team will have to consider very shortly as the two-time All-Pro closes out the finale month and a half or so of his rookie contract. The Steelers are believed to offer him the franchise tag, but a discussion about a long-term deal is likely to follow.
That discussion will need to take a stab at answering some of the above questions and others as well. But Bell has proven that he is an integral part of the Steelers’ success on offense. It is hard to imagine this team without him at this point.