While we already think we know most of the details related to the multi-year contract that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell turned down just over one month ago, a report released Friday morning by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette includes a previous unknown element of those negotiations.
According to Bouchette, the Steelers thought they had come to terms with Bell’s agent, presumably Adisa Bakari, on a five-year deal but the running back nixed it at the last minute on July 17, the league deadline for him to sign a new long-term deal.
The details of that five-year contract that Bell turned down, according to Bouchette, are roughly the same that Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported a month ago. Bouchette says that the deal the Steelers thought they had in place with Bell’s agent averaged more than $!2 million annually and would have paid the running back $30 million in the first two years. Pelissero, by the way, reported a month ago that Bell would have earned $30 million in the first two years of the new deal and $42 million during the first three years.
Bouchette points out in his Friday report that the amount of fully guaranteed money, including the proposed signing bonus amount, is still unknown and those are of course some key details. With that said, the Steelers normal way of doing business with non franchise quarterbacks is to fully guarantee nothing other than a signing bonus when it comes to contract extensions.
Also included in Bouchette’s report is that sources told his paper that Bell wants an average of $15 million and that amount matches lyrics in a rap song he recorded over a year ago titled “Focus” and they are below.
“I’m at the top, and if not, I’m the closest. I’m a need 15 a year and they know this.”
Bell has since said that he wants to be paid like a No. 1 running back and a No. 2 wide receiver, combined. He has also since yet to sign his $12.12 million franchise tag tender and thus hasn’t reported to the team for training camp. A Thursday report from Adam Schefter of ESPN indicated that Bell does plan to sign his tender and report to the team before the start of the regular season. As to when that will actually be is still unknown, however.
If Bouchette’s report about Bell nixing a deal that his agent deemed fair is indeed true, his decision to go that route certainly won’t sit well with a good portion of the Steelers fan base. At this point, however, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Bell will eventually report for duty and we’ll see how his 2017 season plays out.
If Bell ultimately has another great season and remains healthy in the process, the Steelers will need to decide next offseason if they want to put the franchise tag on him again with an even greater possibility at that point that a long-term deal won’t eventually follow.
Being as the Steelers franchised Bell this year, his tag number in 2018 will now be over $14.5 million.