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.
Topic Statement: $14.5 million per season is too much to pay Le’Veon Bell.
Clarification: Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had this conversation, so let’s do it again now that we’re less than a month away from the deadline. There was a report that Bell was not willing to accept any contract offer that came under $14.5 million per season. The Steelers reportedly offered him $13.3 million per season last year.
For one season, maybe, it would be okay. With a running back going into his sixth season and who barely averaged four yards per carry in the previous year after showing much greater efficiency leading up to that, that number is too much to commit over an extended period of time.
We’ve done this dance 100 times, but Bell’s asking price is well above market value. It’s not exactly the norm for a player to single-handedly establish a substantial new top of the market all by himself, but that is what he is looking to do.
Prior teams learned that the top of the running back market was getting too high. They adjusted, and the top salaries came down. They’re at where they should be now, approaching $10 million, not $15 million.
Considering we have heard as much at $17 million per season, $14.5 million almost sounds like a bargain. And considering that he is already scheduled to account for nearly that much already in 2018, it is a fairly reasonable middle ground.
Bell is an integral part of this offense, indisputably. Nobody else in the league is quite as capable of doing exactly what he does as he is. And yet we know that others will soon be paid like him regardless, with Todd Gurley to follow. David Johnson maybe next. Ezekiel Elliott will come as well.
As a bonus, a long-term contract would also get Bell into training camp and better-prepared for the 2018 season. It would also, obviously, be of great benefit to their ability to keep their championship window open a few more years.