We reported on Monday that the Pittsburgh Steelers, based on a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, offered running back Le’Veon Bell a five-year contract that was worth $70 million in total, with $33 million in guarantees in some form or fashion, though probably half of it or more not fully guaranteed.
Rapoport also reported that the team’s previous offer from the year before was for five years and $60 million, which was what initially threw me off. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a year ago that the team’s offer amounted to $13.3 million per season, not the $12 million that Rapoport’s claim would come to.
Which is why I’m now choosing to relay a second report, this from Adam Schefter, about the broad details of Bell’s contract. He notes that his offer from last year was indeed $13.3 million, and claims that the Steelers raised their offer to $15 million per season, though with no further details.
Just to clarify:
Steelers’ offer to Le’Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year.
Steelers’ offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year.
But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 17, 2018
As we well know, and spent a good deal of time discussing already over the course of the past two evenings, the total value of a contract is but one minor figure in determining how much it’s actually worth. Bell’s agent expressed how important full guarantees were for his client, for example.
But $15 million is the figure that we have been hearing prominent for a couple of years now. It’s the figure that Bell rapped about ‘needing’ in order to sign a new contract last season. If Schefter’s information is accurate, that is what the Steelers offered him.
I think we can safely conclude that, whether it was four years and $60 million or five years and $75 million, only a relatively small portion of that contract would have been fully guaranteed, however, which is the sentiment that his agent, Adisa Bakari, clearly expressed on SiriusXM Radio yesterday.
Still, I think it’s a valuable enough piece of information to justify passing along. The Steelers were reportedly prepared to go all the way up to $15 million per season for Bell, which would tie A.J. Green for the sixth-highest average annual salary among wide receivers, and would obviously far clear the next-highest paid running back.
$15 million, quite honestly, is the offer that I would have given to Bell, though I would have given him higher guarantees. Of course it’s easy for me to say that, since it’s not my money, nor my future salary cap that I’m committing to.
Whether or not Schefter’s numbers are accurate, I do think that is about what he should expect to be able to earn on the open market, or perhaps even a bit higher. It will be interesting to see how the situations of David Johnson and Todd Gurley—both of whom should also have new contracts by this time next year—play out in the meantime, or simultaneously with Bell’s 2019 free agency foray.