I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Statement Topic: Will Le’Veon Bell play a down for the Steelers in 2019?
This is a hard one to buy, especially given all of the momentum behind the belief that he will walk in 2019, but it is still a definite possibility that the Steelers end up continuing their relationship with running back Le’Veon Bell beyond this current season.
One of the obvious ways in which that does not happen is if they actually manage to work out a long-term extension between now and the middle of July. Both parties have previously expressed optimism that a deal would get done and that they were closer than a year ago.
There is also the distinct possibility that Bell hits the open market next year and finds that there are not going to be many buyers for a running back (entering his seventh season no less) for his asking price. So if he is forced to lower his asking price, then the Steelers should be players.
That could largely depend upon what sort of season he has this year. He could hurt his value if he gets injured, for example, even a minor injury that reminds buyers that he has a history. Another sluggish start from skipping the offseason would hurt his numbers and his appearance as well.
Despite all that, however, the odds are that the two sides do not come to a long-term agreement, Bell plays out the season, and then cashes in in free agency next year. Either a team will throw a larger sum of money at him, or a team will offer him a greater percentage of his contract guaranteed than the Steelers would.
The franchise tag is prohibitively expensive for the third time, as it escalates to somewhere around $21 million if my numbers are correct. Unless he feels the need to sign a prove-it deal somewhere, Bell will play under a long-term contract in 2019.