Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, along with his agent, Adisa Bakari, has certainly put himself in an interesting position. On the one hand, he maintains that he wants to be the pioneer of the new running back market. At the same time, he doesn’t want to be considered a running back, or at least ‘just’ a running back, elevating himself above the position.
He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too, and the Steelers wouldn’t budge—not that another team won’t in 2019. That is not the topic that I intended to discuss. Bakari went on SiriusXM Radio yesterday and had quite a lot to say about his client and his relation to the running back position.
“Most NFL teams, if not all, have resource allocation boards, where they allocate dollars to a position”, Bakari said. “I think nine times out of 10, most of the dollars are going to be allocated to the QB position. And then a few more dollars for the receiver position, or left tackle, defensive end, and so on”.
“Because of the current nature of offenses that are pass-heavy, it makes sense to allocate less resources to the position of quote ‘running back’”, Bell’s agent allowed. “But”, he diverted, “it should be noted that Le’Veon Bell is not a running back. Not in the traditional sense of the phrase. Le’Veon Bell is a multi-purpose player”.
This is the argument that Bell had been setting up for over a year, both in his public interviews and even in the lyrics of his rap songs. Bell is a running back, but he is also a receiver. He is a blocker. He is everything that can be asked of him. And so he wants to be paid in a say that reflects that. Bakari said that even the team must recognize what Bell is.
“If you ask anyone at the Steelers organization, he’s not just learning the H position, which is the halfback position. He’s learning all the receiver positions as well”, he told the show hosts. “And so, at the end of the day, while the resource allocation board that most teams have grown accustomed to utilizing may make sense nine times out of 10, sometimes you have to look at the player”.
He went on to say that “sometimes the player transcends his designation, his position. And I believe that this certainly is the case [with Le’Veon Bell], and quite frankly I feel it’s beyond belief”.
The argument essentially boils down to this from his agent: “it’s difficult to look Le’Veon Bell in the face and say, ‘hey, you’re less valuable than Receiver X who’s earning X number of dollars a year or Defensive Back Y who’s earning such and such dollars a year, and because you’re playing this position, you should earn Y’”.
I happen to agree with that, as many of you commenters have likely noticed. I don’t think there is any intuitive logic to explain why Bell ought to be worth less than Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins. But his agent has him well-prepared.
“Le’Veon is a very intelligent player, and we certainly advise all of our players on what their value proposition is and where we think the market is going”, he said. “We knew going in that the Steelers did deals a certain way”, and that he could find more guarantees on the open market, which is ultimately why the deal was not consummated.