The deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers to have running back Le’Veon Bell signed to a long-term contract this year is July 16 and that date is now just a little more than a month away. When it comes to contract negotiations that might be going on with Bell and his agent, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin all but indicated on Wednesday during a question and answer call with Steelers Nation Unite members that those will likely resume closer to the deadline.
“The negotiation process is running its course,” Tomlin said on Wednesday in regard to a question about Bell and him potentially signing a contract extension this summer. “It is not negotiated every day and I think that’s probably a point that needs to be made. We’re comfortable with getting back together. I think all sides have agreed that some point in the summer there’ll be a re-connection and a continuation with talks. Le’Veon’s been a good player with us. I think he’s expressed the desire to be with us long-term. We’ve expressed the desire to sign him. So now it’s just the business end of it.”
A few days ago it was reported by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that Bell isn’t willing to sign a new contract that averages less than $14.5 million a season and that’s understandable being as that’s the amount of the franchise tag he was tendered back in February. However, many analysts and fans of the team are in firm belief that the Steelers won’t be able to sign Bell by the July 16 deadline and thus he’ll likely miss all of training camp and the preseason for a second-consecutive year.
Bell has yet to sign the franchise tag and isn’t expected to practice with the team until he does. Last year that happened just prior to the first game of the regular season. If Bell isn’t signed by this year’s July 16 deadline, Tomlin doesn’t sound too worried about the running back eventually showing up out of condition just ahead of this year’s first game against the Cleveland Browns.
“One thing that kind of makes me comfortable through it all is that I got a great deal of confidence in Le’Veon’s overall readiness,” Tomlin said of Bell. “His level of conditioning is always excellent. He’s highly conditioned over a 12 month calendar, so I’m comfortable there. Obviously, I’d like to have him here working alongside his teammates. We don’t always get what we want as sometimes there’s a business element of this. We’ll push through that as quickly as we can and get ready to go win a world championship in 2018 and I know Le’Veon’s excited about being a part of that.”
They say that deadlines spur actions and it looks like that will be the case with Bell this year. Personally, I still like the chances of a deal ultimately getting hammered out between the two sides but with that said, I would be surprised if that happens before July 4. At the very least, we now know that contract talks will resume at a later date and that nothing is essentially happening now or recently.