We think we might know a few more minor details related to the final contract offer the Pittsburgh Steelers gave running back Le’Veon Bell that he ultimately rejected on Monday.
According to a Tuesday report by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Steelers were set to give Bell just a little more than a $10 million signing bonus as part of the reported five-year, $70 million contract he was offered. Bell’s offer, according to Rapoport, would have paid the running back $33 million over the course of the first two years as part of a rolling guaranteed structure. He would have reportedly earned $45 million through the first three years of the deal.
Like I posted Monday night, I’m fairly positive the Steelers didn’t fully guarantee the first two years of Bell’s contract ($33M?). While Rapoport reported Monday that Bell’s offer included $33 million in guarantees, he did not mention how much of that amount was fully guaranteed and I took issue with that. My prediction is that a decent portion of that $33 million worth of guarantees was related to a second-year roster bonus and injury/skill related, thus not fully guaranteed like many have already been led to believe.
As for Rapoport’s report about the Steelers offering Bell just a $10 million signing bonus, that figure can be believable if they also fully guaranteed at some or all of least another $8-$10 or so million in 2018 salary/roster bonus. While the Steelers are considered to be one of the most frugal franchises in the NFL when it comes to only offering fully guaranteed money in the first year of deals, I would be shocked if a $10 million signing bonus was the only fully guaranteed amount of money Bell was offered. If it was, it certainly isn’t a shock that Bell turned it down.
Can Rappoort’s contract numbers even be trusted? During a Tuesday morning interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, was asked to confirm if the report stating the five-year, contract offer his client received from the Steelers indeed totaled out at $70 million.
“Yeah, I don’t know who reported it, or where they got their information.” Bakari said. “You know me well enough to know I’m never going to tell you anything about my client’s negotiations, certainly not money that we’re negotiating or money that we ended up signing for. That’s obviously information that we will always hold private.”
Later during that same interview, Bakari suggested that the numbers being reported Monday night weren’t totally accurate.
“So, no matter what that final number was, and I’m certainly not saying that what’s being reported is accurate, because it’s not, quite frankly, the most important element of it is the guarantee,” Bakari said.
Rapoport hasn’t been the most reliable of sources over the years so keep that in mind when it comes to the contract offer numbers he’s been reporting. Is he close? Maybe, but like I said, I would be shocked to learn that the only fully guaranteed money Bell was offered was just the signing bonus of just over $10 million. That’s just roughly 15% of $70 million. Keep in mind that Bell is scheduled to earn a fully guaranteed $14.544 million in 2018 as soon as he signs his franchise tag.
Maybe we’ll get a few more numbers related to Bell’s latest offer in the coming days that we can trust.