There is nobody more disappointed in the fact that no long-term agreement was reached for Le’Veon Bell on Monday than the man himself. After all, it’s his money. Sure, he had an offer that he could have accepted, but he had his reasons for choosing to push toward free agency, which was apparently about guaranteed money.
But there are a few others pretty down about it too, namely some of the other top running backs in the league who right now are on the verge of looking for new deals themselves. Take 2017 Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, the All-Pro running back of the Los Angeles Rams.
Gurley, a 2015 first-round draft pick, is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, with his fifth-year option having already been picked up. Generally, most first-round picks who are legitimate franchise pieces are signed to long-term contract extensions as they enter their fifth-year deal, rather than being allowed to play under them.
That is how it went for Cameron Heyward and David DeCastro, and how it would have gone this offseason for Ryan Shazier, had he not suffered a possibly career-ending spinal injury. Whether or not it works that way for Bud Dupree is yet to be determined.
The long and short of it, though, is that Gurley should be entering contract negotiations after the 2018 season is over, working toward a long-term deal. And he, as well as David Johnson, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, were both hoping that Bell would be able to set the table for them in their pending negotiations.
“As a player I definitely feel where he’s coming from. I don’t know exactly what he wants. But if he did what he did I’m pretty sure in his mind he did the right thing”, Gurley said, speaking about Bell’s contract situation. “I definitely stand behind him and definitely support him. I wanted him to get that long-term deal but unfortunately it didn’t work out”.
Cobbling together a couple of different reports, the Steelers allegedly offered Bell a five-year contract that was worth $70 million in total money, with a $10 million signing bonus as the only currency that was fully guaranteed at signing.
“He’s playing on the tag for the second time, which is not bad at all, but you know you just want that security”, Gurley said. “It’s definitely a sad situation for a guy to be a top-three back since he’s came into the league and put in the work and can’t even get the money that he deserves. Definitely a sad situation”.
By this time next year, we could have three running backs making $12 million or more, those being the three named in this article. The talent has finally matured and is ready to cash in, resetting a market that had been depleted for about half a decade.