Until there is actually a resolution—or until something awful happens—the most significant story about the 2018 offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers is going to be the Le’Veon Bell saga and whether or not he will come to terms with the team. Failing that, the Steelers will have to decide whether or not to put the franchise tag on him. otherwise he will become an unrestricted free agent.
The Steelers running back is a two-time All-Pro and is the most productive player in the NFL in terms of yards gained per game played since he has come into the league. He is actually at the most productive pace in NFL history, becoming the fastest player to reach 8000 yards from scrimmage.
Now that the season is over, we have a bit more than a month before the new league year begins, but it will be only a couple of weeks before the team can place the franchise tag on him. it is currently unknow when or if the Steelers intend to do that in the event of the failure to reach a contract agreement.
Bell himself has said that he feels as though the two sides are “night and day” in comparison to last season, referring to the proximity toward getting a contract done. He also said that the two sides have created an artificial deadline of wanting to finish a deal prior to the date at which the franchise tag can be applied.
The problem is that Bell is the only person from which we have heard these reports. Previously, Adam Schefter cast doubt on the running back’s interpretation of events. Now, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette is doing the same.
During a recent chat session through the newspaper’s website, the veteran reporter fielded a question about whether or not the sides are as close to a deal as has been reported. “The only one who has ‘reported’ they are close to a deal is Le’Veon himself”, Bouchette replied. “I was told that is just not true”.
The paper’s account of events would seem to corroborate Schefter’s earlier report, which maintained that there have been no serious talks nor any significant progress made toward a deal. In this case, Bouchette is saying outright that he is being told a deal is not close, which is pretty significant.
Earlier in the chat, he was also asked about his ‘sense’ on whether or not a deal will ultimately get done. He responded that he is “still unsure whether Bell will be with them or not” and that he is “trying to get a better feel on that”.
Regardless of how opinions vary on whether or not a deal will get done with the All-Pro, the sides are even more sharply divided over whether or not the Steelers should re-sign him for what it would inevitably cost, which figures to be, on the low end, about $14 million per season.