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Devil’s Advocate: Bell Gets His New Deal

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Will a long-term deal get done with Le’Veon Bell this year?

Today his Wednesday, July 12. The deadline for players who received the franchise tag to work out a long-term extension with their teams is on Monday, July 17. Given that that is just around the corner, it would probably be a good time to weigh the odds of one of those deals—for the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell—getting done with the clock ticking.

Now, it is important to preface this by making clear that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the odds of it getting done decrease in proportion to the amount of time left to get it done. Chances are, if a deal is reached, it is going to happen on Monday, so silence until then should not be construed as evidence of no deal.

But that still doesn’t mean a deal will get done. Art Rooney II can talk all he wants about how he would like to have Bell be a Steeler for the long term, but that doesn’t cash checks. And frankly Bell already has a big check to cash.

The fact that the team is by no means in a financial bind also eases the pressure of getting a deal done that could lower his substantial cap hit, even though it would just put them back in the same position next year—at a higher price tag.

But the Steelers do understand how important Bell is to this offense. They are simply a different team when he is on the field. There is no greater proof of this than when he is not on the field. It’s very, very, very rare that they let those players walk.

Still, there are lingering uncertainties that make him an interesting case. There are the injuries and the suspensions to consider. Is he appropriately matured and able to stay out of trouble? Are the Steelers sure of this? It will influence the negotiations.

Don’t forget about Ben Roethlisberger, though. While I’m not saying keeping Bell would be the difference between him staying longer and retiring…it could be a factor in his decision. Forgive me, but I don’t see them riding James Conner to a Super Bowl in 2018.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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