With the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 training camp now halfway over, running back Le’Veon Bell still has yet to sign his franchise tag tender and report for duty and he more than likely won’t until just before or just after the team’s third preseason game. At least we hope.
Being as the Bell reportedly turned down a five-year contract from the Steelers prior to the July 17 deadline that would have allegedly paid him $30 million over the course of the first two years of the deal and $42 million over the course of the first three, he cant sign a long-term deal with the organization until after the 2017 season is over. In short, he is likely to play under the $12.12 million franchise tag in 2017. With that said, former NFL agent and current CBS Sports contributor Joel Corry recently went over a few things related to Bell’s current situation that aren’t commonly known.
Bell is allowed to negotiate his one-year salary with the Steelers and other conditions relating to his franchise player status. He could insist on a clause that would prohibit the Steelers from using a franchise or transition designation on him in 2018, also known as a prohibition clause, in order to sign his tender and report.
Obtaining a prohibition clause might be difficult for Bell. A franchise player hasn’t gotten this type of provision since 2008 when the Titans gave Albert Haynesworth a conditional prohibition clause. It was triggered by Haynesworth making the Pro Bowl, having at least 60 percent defensive playtime, or 53 percent defensive playtime and the Titans winning at least 10 games or ranking in the top five in total defense.
While Bell might indeed try to angle for a higher 2017 salary along with a guarantee that he won’t be franchise tagged by the Steelers in 2018, I think we all know that such tactics are likely to fall on deaf ears. The Steelers aren’t likely to give in to such demands and if he wants to continue to holdout into the regular season, they’ll almost assuredly let him.
For what it’s worth, Corry doesn’t believe that Bell will holdout into the regular season because he stands to lose some money if he does.
Bell missing any part of the regular season would seem remote with him losing almost $715,000 of salary for each week missed. It hasn’t happened with a healthy franchise player since the 2006 CBA implemented the July multi-year deal deadline.
In case you’re curious, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuesday morning during an interview on Steelers Nation Radio that there’s still no news to report when it comes to Bell and when he might ultimately sign his franchise tag and report for duty.
“No, that’s totally up to Bell,” Colbert said. “I mean, he needs to do what he needs to do in his mind and we need to do what we need to do. Whenever players aren’t here, we focus on who is here and who can help us win and that’s where we are. And really, beyond that, there’s no need wasting time on something that we can’t control. Let’s just move on and get ready for Cleveland throughout the preseason.”
So, are there any expectations within the organization that Bell’s not going to be back in the fold at some point before the regular season?
“You know, until he shows, he’s not here and again, we’re fine moving on day-to-day and getting ready for Cleveland with what we have and being confident that the guys here will grow and get better and hopefully meet that challenge,” Colbert said.