Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Le’Veon Bell
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers could have drafted a running back in the first round, if they wanted to. They had their pick of the entire running back class short of Saquon Barkley, who went second to the New York Giants, and Rashaad Penny, whom the Seattle Seahawks took just before Pittsburgh’s first-round pick.
They could have taken Sony Michel, whom the New England Patriots selected just three picks after them. They could have taken Nick Chubb, the third pick of the second round, going to the Cleveland Browns. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Ronald Jones a few spots after that. Then it was Kerryon Johnson.
Derrius Guice was available to them just one spot ahead of their second-round pick. If they really valued him the way that they valued Mason Rudolph, the Steelers would have made a move up to take the LSU running back, whom they met with during the pre-draft process and seemed to show a lot interest.
Pittsburgh chose not to do any of that. In other words, they didn’t do anything that would affect Le’Veon Bell’s status with the team in 2018. It was always a longshot that the Steelers would draft a running back and rescind Bell’s franchise tender, but if they took a player high at the position it would have effectively ended contract negotiations for a long-term deal.
The odds are that a long-term arrangement is not going to be reached anyway, which in all likelihood means that running back will be a high priority during the 2019 NFL Draft, working under the assumption that Bell will find a suitor in the open market next year.
But for now, his position with the team, and at the negotiating table, remains the same. The only thing the Steelers have done to address the running back position was by taking Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round, who is more of a gadget player than a pure runner.
I don’t know if that strengthens his resolve in his contract demands even more, thus making it even more likely he’s in another uniform next year, but he should know this: he is basically approaching his final opportunity to stay in Pittsburgh in two months’ time.