Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is currently preparing to play in this years Pro Bowl down in Orlando, FL and the All-Pro updated the media with some thoughts on his upcoming free agency status on Wednesday.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com and Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bell, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year, said that he and Steelers are in a ‘good spot’ regarding current contract talks and that both sides already have been talking since season ended.
“We are a lot closer than we were last year,” Bell said.
This really isn’t usual to hear and I caution all of you reading this to not get your hopes up right now as it will come as quite a surprise if the Steelers are able to sign Bell to a long-term contract extension prior to having to the franchise tag deadline.
Bell, who finished second in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage in 2017, will cost the Steelers $14.54 million in 2018 should the team decide to place the franchise tag on him a second consecutive year. Prior to last year’s July deadline for tagged players to sign long-term contract extensions, Bell reportedly turned down an offer from the Steelers that would have paid him $30 million in the first two years of the deal and $42 million in the first three.
“I don’t think it will drag on. I think we’ll get something done and it will be exciting for both sides, for the fans and everybody,” Bell said about his contract negotiations on Wednesday according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
After staying healthy the entire 2017 season, Bell, who was named first-team All-Pro for the first time in his career as a flex-position player a few weeks ago, is now likely going to want a multi-year contract from the Steelers that averages roughly $17 million a season. A few weeks ago, Bell also threatened to either retire or sit out the entire 2018 season should the Steelers ultimately place the franchise tag on him again this offseason.
“Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell said. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
On Wednesday, however, Bell made it really sound like he expects to sign a new long-term deal prior to the Steelers placing the franchise tag on him.
“We’ll definitely get it done before then,” Bell said. “We can definitely do that. That’s the goal. That’s what I want to do. Both sides are still working and trying to make things work. They may have to give a little. I might have to give a little. But the biggest thing is I want to be a Steeler going into next season. That’s what I want to do. That’s what Steelers Nation wants, that’s what the coaching staff wants, that’s what my teammates want. So we have to get it done.”
Teams can franchise tag a player between Feb. 20 and March 6, after which they would have until July 16 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a long-term contract.