In the “water is wet” category of Pittsburgh Steelers news today, Le’Veon Bell is predictably planning on skipping the teams OTAs, which kick off tomorrow. Jeremy Fowler reported the news citing a source though of course, any Steelers’ fan could’ve guessed the same.
“Running back Le’Veon Bell does not plan to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organized team activities, which begin Tuesday, according to a source.”
Bell is holding out as both sides haven’t been able to come together on a long-term deal for the past two summers. Last season, Bell skipped all of OTAs, training camp, and most of the preseason before showing up in the final week. The team has admitted since they got off to a slow start in part due to Bell’s absence and for at least the first week of the season, Bell had his snap count reduced.
This year, should a similar holdout occur, could be even tougher with a new offensive coordinator in place. Randy Fichtner may keep a large chunk of the offense in place but there’s going to be some key differences between his offense and Todd Haley’s.
Both sides will have until mid-July to hammer out a deal or else Bell will play 2018, almost certainly his last year in Pittsburgh, on the franchise tag. Don’t expect much movement on contract talks until closer to the July deadline.
Bell has seemed to confirm he will be with the team Week One, walking back on previous offseason comments and hints of either retiring or sitting out chunks of the regular season.
If a long-term deal gets done, expect the average yearly value to fall somewhere in the $14.5-$15.5 million range, easily making him the highest paid back in the league and largest contract any RB has received in league history. Adrian Peterson is the current record holder after receiving a 6 year, $85.28 million deal ($14.213 per year) in 2011.