Hey, have you guys heard that Le’Veon Bell has not reported for work with the Pittsburgh Steelers yet? I thought it would be pretty major news but has seemed to have gotten buried in the 24-hour cycle. I mean, the guy was a first-team All-Pro just last season and we have hardly heard anything about him.
So let me add yet one more thing about him. Mike Florio really, really wants you to know that the Steelers can still pay Bell more this season if they wanted to, and he wrote an article about it to make sure of that. Let’s talk about that, starting with this excerpt:
The Steelers can offer Bell more money to entice him to sign. Yes, despite the many labor-deal experts on social media and elsewhere who insist that it’s $14.54 million (minus $855,000 for Week One) or nothing, the Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits a multi-year contract after mid-July, but it does not prohibit terms other than those contained in the franchise tender.
He’s right. What the Collective Bargaining Agreement restricts for franchise-tagged players after the mid-July deadline is an agreement on a multi-year contract. It does not mean that he has to be locked into the value of the franchise tag.
In other words, if the Steelers wanted to, they could offer Bell more money in order to try to convince him to report earlier. They can come in the form of incentives that they may be able to push into next season for salary cap purposes.
But does that actually sound like a good idea for a team to do? Has a team ever done that with a player that they placed the franchise tag on? I’m pretty sure that is not the case. And it would set a pretty bad precedent league-wide that 31 other owners would be awfully pissed off about.
“There’s no way to keep the Steelers from getting full use out of Bell if/when he shows up, but there is a way to make it worth the risk Bell will be taking as it relates to his post-2018 contract”, Florio wrote. “That said, there’s no reason to think the notoriously stubborn Steelers would consider something like that, no matter how fair it could be, to both sides”.
While that might sound good on paper, the reality is that it doesn’t actually address Bell’s primary concern, which is to get through the next several months by taking as few hits as he can possibly afford to take. Enticing him with a few extra million dollars now is hardly going to convince him to take a beating for 15 games in his quest for what I’m guessing is at least $15 million per season over at least four years, with half of it or more in full guarantees.
We are dealing with a player who is already actively choosing to forfeit present money in his quest for a greater sum in future money. Unless the Steelers are willing to give him a Matt Ryan-like salary, he’s not going to report sooner than he has to.