There is good news bad news when it comes to former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s contract as details continue to emerge about its exact nature and structure. While it was originally reported to contain $35 million in guarantees, the aftermath suggests that only $25 million is guaranteed for skill, injury, and cap—which is to say, fully guaranteed. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it doesn’t change the qualification for a third-round compensatory pick.
Granted, that is the highest full guarantee ever given to a running back. From that perspective, he ‘won’ his decision to turn down the Steelers’ offer last summer, if the literal full guarantee at signing was his only driving factor. Others have had very different takes, including former general manager Joe Banner.
Banner wrote that, including the season he skipped, Bell will be $20 million behind in cashflow at the end of the 2019 season in comparison to where he would be had he signed the Steelers’ offer last summer. “This may be the worst contract decision we have ever seen a player make, and it should’ve been obvious to him and his agent”, he wrote.
The deal reportedly includes only a signing bonus of $8 million, but with guarantees up to $25 million by Sunday. The cashflow of the first season of his contract—assuming no incentives reached—would be just $14.5 million, then $25 million through two years, $39.5 million through three, and 52.5 million through the fourth and final year.
Details on Le’Veon Bell’s #Jets contract:
* $8 million dollar signing bonus
* $25 million fully guaranteed by Sunday
Cash flow: $14.5M through Year 1 / $26M through 2 / $39.5M through 3 / $52.5M through Year 4
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2019
Despite all this, Bell says that he can hold his head high and believe in the fact that he made the right decision, particularly as it concerns skipping the 2018 season and the $14-plus million he would have earned under the franchise tag.
“I don’t regret anything that happened”, he told reporters after officially signing yesterday. “Obviously everything has happened for a reason up until this point. But who’s to say if I played last year, if I do go out there and play on a one-year franchise tag, if I do get hurt, do I end up sitting in this position today being with the New York Jets on a beautiful deal?”.
The thing is, there are a lot of people who now believe the Steelers’ offer was more beautiful, which included a $10 million signing bonus, in addition to a $10 million roster bonus that would have vested within days of signing. While the ‘full guarantee’ may have been less substantial, the cashflow was certainly better, and frankly, he was less likely to be released by the Steelers than he is by the Jets.
“If I go out there and… play on the franchise tag and I get another 400 carries and I come out of the season healthy, who’s to say that a team will (sign me after getting) another 400 carries?”, he asked. “I’ve contemplated on everything I’ve done. I know it’s past. I know everything that’s happened to this point. And I don’t regret one thing. I’m happy where I’m at and the decision I’ve made and I’m glad to be here”.
I do genuinely hope he’s happy with the outcome and doesn’t regret his decision, although I do think there are a few things about the way that he handled himself throughout the process that a normal person ought to regret. Still, my only concern is that he yields the Steelers a parting gift of a third-round pick in 2020.