The Pittsburgh Steelers obviously failed to sign running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract extension by the league’s Monday deadline and that means he’ll play under the $12.12 million franchise tag in 2017. Bell reportedly turned down a five-year deal from the Steelers that would have averaged over $12 million annually and paid him $30 million through 2018 and $42 million through 2019, the third year of the contract. So, how much was Bell looking for from the Steelers? According to former cornerback Ike Taylor, probably that $15 million he rapped about just over a year ago.
During the Wednesday edition of NFL Total Access, a graphic was posted that indicated Bell told Taylor, “I want to be paid as a No.1 RB & No.2 WR.” You can see that graphic above.
Now, let me say that at no point during the segment on Bell did Taylor utter that exact quote above. He did, however, seem to infer that’s what the running back told him. Watch for yourself in the video below and I have the full audio on the way as well.
"I want to be paid as a #1 RB & a #2 WR." – @L_Bell26 to @Ike_SwagginU
What do you think the @steelers should do? pic.twitter.com/0WsLDmqPtU
— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) July 19, 2017
“Go on and give that man $3 million more,” Taylor said after establishing the fact that Bell was the Steelers second leading pass catcher last season behind only Antonio Brown. “And that would put me at $15 [million per year].”
That sounds great in theory, but it’s just not how things work in the NFL. If Bell wants to make top wide receiver money, perhaps he should insist that the Steelers move him to wide receiver permanently, or at least, line him up there on two-thirds of all snaps played. I’m kidding, of course, but you see where I’m going.
Like it or not, Bell is a running back during a time when the market for that position has bottomed out. Sure, Bell is as talented as they come and deserves to be the league’s highest-paid running back, but with that said, his $12.12 million franchise tag is already $4 million more than the next highest paid player at his position makes and that’s LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills.
Next season, Bell can probably forget about getting $15 million per, but he’ll likely come close to that as the franchise tag amount next year will be $14.54 million. By then, however, Bell will likely want $17 million or more per season as part of a new long-term contract extension and especially if he puts up 2,000 or more total yards from scrimmage in 2017.
So, does Taylor think Bell will ultimately wait a while before signing his franchise tag and thus miss the start of and potentially all of training camp? You bet he does.
“It’s a strong possibility he might hold out,” Taylor said.