Are you ready for a slew of reports on Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell today with his contract extension deadline being 4 p.m. EST? I hope so.
Earlier Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN was a a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio to talk about whether or not Bell and the Steelers would reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension by today’s deadline.
“I think there’s a chance, I do think there’s a chance,” Schefter said. “Of all the four franchise players right now that are out there today, Le’Veon’s got the best chance of getting one done. But I don’t know how great that chance is. I know that coming into today, the two sides still were far apart, that it was going to be challenging to be able to get a deal done, if they could do that. And again, I just go back to this. Last year on this day, right before the deadline, the two sides came very close at the last moment to getting a deal done and for whatever reason that deal fell apart at the last moment and they didn’t get it done.”
Schefter also added Monday that he thinks Bell would consider sitting out games in 2018 if he doesn’t get a new contract by today’s deadline.
“You know, everybody’s assuming that he’s just going to show up like last year before the regular season opener and I don’t think that’s a given at all,” Schefter said of Bell. “I think if they don’t get a deal done, the most important thing for Le’Veon Bell is to preserve his health and make sure he’s healthy heading into the 2019 free agent market. So, I think it’s possible that Le’Veon Bell skips the first half of the year. It’s possible. I’m not telling you he’ll do that, but I can tell you this, he’ll certainly think about it and make a decision about that.”
Personally, I will be surprised if Bell does sit out any games in 2018 if he fails to get a deal done later on Monday. Remember, he stands to lose more than $850,000 a week should he sit out and not sign his tag. Is it his prerogative to do that? Sure it is, but I will be shocked if he does. Bell has already hinted that while he would likely bypass training camp and the preseason again should he fail to sign a new deal by the July 16 deadline, but that he would show up for the team’s Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns. Even so, Schefter still firmly believes Bell would strongly consider missing games.
“If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t get a deal done today, I think his big goal this year is to, honestly, to get to the 2019 free agent market healthy,” Schefter reiterated. “It’s not to get 400 touches, get more tread on the tire, wear down, risk injury before you get your big payday. It’s just not.”
What does Schefter think Bell should do?
“And I think in the end, ultimately, the safe conservative play is to take whatever deal Pittsburgh’s offering,” Schefter said Monday morning. “It might not be as much as a team out there would be willing to pay him next year, but it keeps him in a city he loves, in a market he knows, with a team he has excelled and making, I’m sure, what’s going to be very good money. Just not quite as much as he might make on the open market.”