Until the 2018 NFL draft is over and the Pittsburgh Steelers hold their first rookie mini camp, we’re unlikely to hear anything concrete or significant in terms of contract negotiations between the organization and running back Le’Veon Bell. During this dead period, however, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is attempting to separate some fact from fiction when it comes to Bell and his current contract negotiations with the Steelers.
The two biggest points that Fowler tries to reemphasize in his latest story when it comes to Bell and contract negotiations with the Steelers is first, the amount he wants per year, and second, how close the two sides might just be to getting an extension done before the July 16 deadline..
As for the recent reports that suggested Bell wants his new contract to average $17 million per season, below is what Fowler claims to know about that topic:
Here’s what I know — when I asked Bell what his per-year magic number was, he said he wouldn’t take anything less than $14.5 million annually (his franchise number) over the course of a long-term deal. That’s not a direct number but can be a guide here. He very well might want $17 million, but he probably wouldn’t have said that if $15 million wouldn’t get it done.
As for the belief that Bell and the Steelers are currently far apart when it comes to the two sides and contract negotiations, below is what Fowler thinks he knows about that:
While they aren’t particularly close, they aren’t that far off, either. The Steelers have increased their offer from last year, which Bell said fell at an average of $13.3 million annually. But Bell asked for more before the March 6 deadline, forcing the Steelers to reassess.
You can read the rest of Fowler’s thoughts on the matter by following the included link, but quite honestly, the rest seems like even more wild speculation. More than anything, Fowler’s post feels more like a recap with the purpose of just filling slow offseason time before the draft takes place.
What we do know right now is that Bell is currently wearing the $14.544 million franchise tag and that he’s yet to sign it and likely won’t for a long while. We also know that Bell’s unlikely to participate in any of the team’s offseason program being as he’s not currently under contract. We also know that this year’s deadline to get Bell signed to a long-term contract is July 16 and if the two sides fail to accomplish that feat by then, Bell isn’t likely to show up for work until after training camp and the preseason is over just like last year.
The Steelers have once again said all offseason that their goal is to get Bell signed to a long-tern extension prior to this year’s deadline as they want him to finish his NFL career in Pittsburgh. Bell, on the other hand, has said for quite a while now that he wants to be the one to totally reset the running back market.