Is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell destined to sit out the entire 2018 season? Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote Friday he believes that might could ultimately be the path Bell chooses this season. Now, please keep in mind that Bouchette is not reporting that Bell will indeed skip the 2018 season in its entirety, only that he might.
The only thing that we know for sure right now is that Bell will miss a third consecutive game Monday night, and this will forfeit another $855,529.41 in 2018 pay because of that. Additionally, we also know that Bell must sign his franchise tag tender by the Tuesday afternoon after Week 10’s games, which is November 13 this season, if he wants to play at all this season.
While Bell certainly doesn’t need an accrued season in 2018 as it relates to his free agent classification next March, him deciding to sit out the entire the season could potentially not work out in his favor as former NFL agent Joel Corry told me a few weeks ago when I had him on The Terrible Podcast.
During my interview with Corry I asked him if the Steelers would be able to tag Bell again at the same $14.544 million amount as this year should the running back choose to sit out the entire 2018 season.
“Yes, because 120 percent of the prior year salary, since he wouldn’t have had one this year, would be the salary from 2017, so it’s the same franchise tag he’s on right now,” Corry told me. “But he would be designated as a franchise player for a third time, so it ends up being a weird result, because it would still be exclusive because a third franchise tag, by operation, is exclusive, at least that’s what a team source I talked to today told me when I was trying to get clarification on how that would work.
“So that kind of defeats the purpose for him sitting out a whole year because theoretically if they wanted to go through this again, they could do it again and restrict him. So, there’s incentive for him to report just so that third franchise tag becomes so astronomical that they never put it on him since the quarterback number’s going to be close to $25 million next year.”
In summation, should Bell decide to sit out all this season the Steelers could decide to once again restrict him from hitting a very lucrative payday as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 by placing the franchise tag on him once again. That amount, according to Corry, would once again be what it was this year which is $14.544 million. If the Steelers went that unlikely route next February then Bell would then need to decide if he wants to sit out another season, a very dangerous thing to do at his age.
Just to make sure, I reached out again and asked Corry about that same scenerio just prior to writing this post and here is what he told me.
“When I ran the scenario by the NFLPA and some team execs I know, the consensus was a $14.544M tag.”
Sure, the Steelers might decide not to tag Bell again should he decide to sit out the entire 2018 season but is the running back willing to take that chance? Personally, I think Bell will report and sign his franchise tag before the Week 10 deadline as that makes the most sense. We’ll just have to continue to wait and see what happens.