Last week, Le’Veon Bell said he felt optimistic about getting a long-term deal done with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Adam Schefter threw cold water on that notion before today’s 2018 Pro Bowl. Addressing those comments, Schefter said Bell and the Steelers have not had any such talks.
“The fact of the matter is the two sides have not had any contract discussions recently,” Schefter said. “I think the Steelers would like to re-sign and he would like to be back in Pittsburgh but the fact of the matter is they’ve made zero, discernible significant progress. They’re in the same spot they’ve been in with Pittsburgh hoping to keep him and hoping he’ll stay. But no progress right now between the two sides.”
Bell told reporters he and the team have set an unofficial date of February 20th to try and hammer out a long-term deal. But if each side hasn’t sat down at the table yet, there’s an awfully tight window to try to get any sort of deal done before that date. It still looks likely the team will wind up placing the franchise tag on Bell and use the summer in the hopes of working out a contract extension.
Though Bell vaguely threatened to hold out for the entire 2018 season, that seems highly unlikely and counter-productive for Bell’s camp. But if he gets tagged, he controls when he signs it and shows up. Should an extension not get worked out, it’s almost guaranteed Bell will again miss all of training camp and enter the regular season a little rusty, as was the case this past year. Bell averaged 3.5 yards per carry over the first three weeks of the season and averaged 4.1 the rest of the way.
Certainly not the last we’ll hear of the situation and it isn’t impossible they work out a deal. For the right price, it’s what both sides want. But it serves as a reminder how difficult these negotiations have been and will continue to be. It doesn’t feel like each side has much room left to give after working to the 12th hour to try – and fail – to reach an agreement last season. Not enough has changed to believe either side will dramatically change their offer.