Le’Veon Bell held what amounted to a press conference on his Instagram account Wednesday night. The main topic, as you’d expect, is his future with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Same of what Bell said was what we’ve heard before. But Bell, initially at least, confirmed that he will not miss any regular season action even if a long-term deal doesn’t get done.
“Am I going to sit out if I don’t get paid? Honestly, no, I’m not going to sit out. I’m going to be in the facility week one,”Bell said, responding to one fan’s question. “It’s just going to be a rerun of last year. I’m not going to camp. I’m not doing nothing else extra, OTAs, none of that. I’m going to strictly go to what I have to go to. Like, I want to win every game. I want to have the best statistical career that I possibly can, so I want to play in every game that I possibly can play. Me saying I was going to sit out was more emotional at the time. So when I was asked the question, it’s the way I felt at that time.”
However, he seemed to flip-flop on that answer several times.
“But, no, I’m not going to sit out,” Bell said. “No, I might come week one, I might come week four, I don’t know what week I’m going to come, but I’m going to play this year, though. “I’m going to play, I just don’t know when I’m going to play. But I’m definitely going to play. Hopefully when it comes down to it, we don’t have to deal with that. I mean, hopefully we get a deal done. That’s the biggest thing. We just want to get a deal done. I want to get a deal done, hopefully the Steelers do too. So, if we get it done, we get it done, but if not, then I’ll handle it from there. But I definitely won’t be in camp, It’ll just basically be a rerun of last year.”
Bell explained the true issue with him and the team trying to get together on a contract number and he rejected the arguments about being double the next highest paid back, Devonta Freeman, saying it was Freeman’s decision to sign the contract he did and that shouldn’t influence Bell’s demands.
“It’s not so much money. I think that the problem is, I think it’s more of me being valued as to where I feel like I produce,” Bell said. “People taking about Devonta Freeman and his deal, ‘Ah if Le’Veon do this he’ll get paid almost double as Devonta Freeman.’ Look, just cancel that argument because for one, Devonta Freeman signed for what he wanted to sign for. That’s not on me, that’s on Devonta Freeman. I’m not comparing my deal to his deal because that’s what he decided to sign for. He can’t go back and change it and do none of that. That’s what he wanted to sign for, that’s what he signed for. So him signing for that had nothing to do for what I want in my deal.”
He used examples of Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson’s contracts as the benchmark of where he should be paid.
“Adrian Peterson in 2011, signed for damn near a hundred million dollars, but his APY was like 14 [million] a year. In 2011,” Bell said. “That was seven years ago. It’s 2018 right now and guys are signing for eight million a year at running back. I don’t understand where the shift was. Then you know Chris Johnson had another big deal, he signed for like twelve million a year. That was years ago.
“So, I just think I’m a guy who has to stand firm to what I really feel like I’m valued at. So you know, the running back market can be where it needs to be. Running backs are an important position. On a average, the average guy per se, we have a shorter shelf life. So that’s what people say. It is what it is, because we get hit the most, we do a lot of whatever. But I think the fact that people do say that we need to get everything we can when we are in our prime of our career just because of the fact we don’t play as long so we won’t make as much money and running backs need that respect.”
Later on, he was asked if he will play with the franchise tag.
“I will play this year with the tag.”
He brushed back on the argument that the Steelers scored as many points without him in the lineup as with him.
“When you’re playing football and you’re running the ball, you’re controlling the game. If you’re dropping 25 points and we ran 78-80 plays when I’m playing, that means the opposing offense doesn’t have the ball as much.The stat needs to be…how much is the opposing offense getting? They aren’t getting the ball as much.”
He ended it by saying he and the team are still working on a deal getting done.
“We’re getting closer and closer.”
So while a little confusing, the overall takeaway from his 15 minute conversation is that Bell will report to the team for the Week One opener. We’ll see if that holds true.