The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will this be Le’Veon Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh?
We might as well get right to the money question, no? And this is the one everybody is asking. Yesterday was the deadline for players tendered a franchise tag to work out a long-term deal with their teams. It went down to the wire, but it doesn’t seem as though Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers ever got all that close to hitting the number that would make things work for both sides.
The fifth-year running back called the process an eye-opener (and really, it should be, because he has never gone through a negotiation before), and also made comments about wanting to stand his ground for his position, which he feels has been undervalued for too long (more on that later as well).
Such comments have given pause for those who are hoping to see Bell in the black and gold for the long term, though he did say that he doesn’t want to play for any other team. He just wants it to be the Steelers who pay him the absolutely top dollar.
They will get another crack at it starting with the conclusion of their 2017 season, ideally after they hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Once their season ends, they will have between then and three days prior to the start of the league year to engage in completely exclusive contract negotiations with their All-Pro.
But if they couldn’t get it done now, why would they get it done next year? Is there a compelling reason to thinks so? Recently history seems to be laden with examples of players who ended up leaving a year after a contract was not worked out, such as Kelvin Beachum and Mike Wallace.
What Bell has accomplished in his four seasons while he has been on the field has been truly exceptional and deserving of peak compensation. Whether or not it will be the Steelers who ultimately compensate him is a question that has been postponed until next year.