Well prior to 2018 NFL Draft taking place, Pittsburgh Steelers general manage Kevin Colbert made it clear that contract negotiations with running back Le’Veon Bell would be on the back burner for a while. However, with this year’s draft now behind the team, Colbert was asked during a Thursday interview on 93.7 The Fan if he thinks the organization believes they’ll ultimately be able to work something out with Bell when it comes to a long-term contract extension.
“Well, you know, we know the Bell situation and when prior to the draft and free agency, we said, look, once we put the tag on, there’s really nothing you can do at that point. He’s yours for at least for the 2018 season, we understand that,” Colbert said on Thursday. “And we also had to take care of the current business, the free agency, the draft and so forth.
“So, now when we get through free agency and get through the draft, with Martavis [Bryant] no longer with us and we cut J.J. Wilcox, who had a little bit of a higher cap number, it changes our cap situation. So, you go through those, you now know what your cap is going into the summer and we have until July 15th, not that we want to maybe deal with that on July 14th, but you know, now’s the time where we start to refocus on what we have.”
By the sound of things, the Steelers will not ramp up their contract extension talks with Bell for at least a little while longer and at least not until after the team conducts their annual rookie minicamp next weekend. After that event takes place, the Steelers will then conduct their 10 annual OTA practices and those will be followed immediately by the team’s annual mandatory minicamp, that will conclude on June 14. If I had to guess, the Steelers won’t seriously start focusing on Bell and his contract until around the middle of June and that will give them one full month to negotiate a new deal for him prior to the mid July deadline.
“We’ll find out about the rookies and see how they look and what we hoped actually shows up in the mini camps and so forth that we can say, OK, this is what we look like for 2018 so maybe we can do some things to try to get Le’Veon signed to an extension,” Colbett said. “It’s always been our goal, I believe it’s his goal and it’s just been something we both kind of put on the back burner until we get to this point moving forward.”
While the prospects of the Steelers ultimately getting Bell signed to a contract extension prior to this years deadline certainly appear to be weak, I still believe the two sides will eventually get something done and thus shock several people in the process. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong, but in the meantime, don’t expect Bell to be in attendance for any of the teams OTA practices or the mandatory minicamp as I certainly don’t believe a new deal will be in place by then and I bet Colbert thinks that way right now as well.