Steelers News

Report: Steelers Offered Le’Veon Bell $14M Per Season Over 5 Years

The Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le’Veon Bell had until 4 PM earlier today to reach a long-term contract extension that would prevent him from playing this season under the exclusive franchise tag and setting him up for unrestricted free agency in 2019. As we are all well aware, the two sides failed to do so.

This was the second year of negotiations angling toward a long-term contract extension, and the second time that it failed, but according to Ian Rapoport, the Steelers did angle their offer up. The final deal was reportedly for five years and $70 million—averaging $14 million per season—which included over $30 million during the first two years of the deal.

Rapoport later went on NFL Network to discuss the contract and mentioned that the offer included $33 million in guarantees, though he did not specify if that money was fully guaranteed. He also noted that the deal would average $15 million over the course of the first three years of the deal, obviously for a total of $45 million.

It was reported by Rapoport that Pittsburgh’s final offer to the running back was for five years and $60 million, which is an average of $12 million, though we have previously heard reports that they offered up to something like $13.3 million per season.

All of that is now moot, at least for the time being, because the two sides can no longer negotiate toward a multi-year contract until the 2018 season has concluded. By then, Bell will be so close to hitting unrestricted free agency that it is incredibly likely he would accept any contract offer without testing the market first.

In the time being, he will be playing under the franchise tag for the second consecutive season, which for him is worth approximately $14.5 million in 2018. The Steelers’ offer averaged below that figure in annual salary, and he has reportedly claimed that he would not accept less than that. As it turns out, he didn’t.

Bell is entering his sixth season now, and has averaged the most yards from scrimmage up to this point in his career in the history of the NFL. He gained 1946 yards from scrimmage over 15 games last season, and had 1884 over 12 games the year before. In the only season in which he has played 16 games, Bell totaled 2215 yards from scrimmage.

The Steelers stepped up quite a bit, but did not actually offer to make Bell the highest-paid running back in NFL history. The Minnesota Vikings in 2011 signed Adrian Peterson to s six-year contract worth $85.28 million, which averaged over $14.2 million per season.

The market has changed significantly since then, of course. The highest running back contract in terms of APY at the moment on a multi-year deal belongs to the Atlanta FalconsDevontae Freeman, who is earning an average of $8.25 million. Bell’s franchise tag value surpasses that by more than $6 million.

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