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 Le’Veon Bell’s decision to pass up the Steelers’ offer pay off for him?
In order to attempt to answer this question, we have to assume that the reported numbers of the offer that the Steelers gave Le’Veon Bell are accurate, which would have reportedly paid him over $12 million per season, with $30 million in the first two years and $42 million in the first three. It was also reported that it would have been a five-year deal.
Bell chose to pass that up in favor of playing under the $12 million franchise tag this season with the opportunity next year either to play under another franchise tag worth about $14.5 million or to hit the open market.
The one big assumption that Bell is making in passing up the Steelers’ reported offer is that the rest of the league is going to be willing to revitalize the stagnant running back market, which has been on the decline in terms of compensation handed out for about half a decade or so.
Evidently the Steelers were willing to pay Bell roughly 50 percent more than any other running back in the league, however, so if Pittsburgh was willing to stick their neck out, it might well be reasonable to assume that other teams will be players as well.
Of course, there is a long road between the eve of training camp 2017 and the beginning of free agency in 2018. Like, there is an entire season to play. And Bell is going to not only have to get through it, but get through it continuing to play at an elite level.
The fifth-year running back no doubt rolled the dice on himself, but it’s a gamble that in my estimation has a high chance of paying off for him in the long run. Even if he doesn’t end up signing a contract next year for much more than $12 million per season, he’ll still have made the franchise tag value in 2017 for his troubles in delaying a deal for a year.