Ah, Le’Veon Bell, the great economic philosopher of today’s NFL. The man who rapped his contract demands into reality…years later. The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back currently appears to be best-known as the guy who sat out an entire season under the auspices of protecting his body with an eye toward cashing in on free agency the next year, trusting that the Pittsburgh Steelers wouldn’t tag him a third time.
At the time, some wondered if Bell’s decision to sit out a year under the franchise tag would influence other players down the line to do the same. Well, now it’s happened…or at least it sounds like it might. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones just said this yesterday.
Responding to a Tweet sharing an NFL Network segment that talked about how the Chiefs were unlikely to match his contract demands for a long-term extension by the July 15 deadline, he said, “or I won’t play. Le’Veon Bell told me about this”.
Or I won’t play. @LeVeonBell told me about this
— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) July 1, 2020
Bell, a 2013 third-round pick, was tagged in 2017 and played under the tag that year, though he did skip the entirety of the offseason and only reported to the team on the last possible day that would allow him to be eligible to play in the season opener.
It was not this most efficient season, but the team went 13-13 and he still put up his touchdowns, making All-Pro and playing in all 16 games. When he was tagged again the following year and once again the two sides failed to come to terms on a long-term deal, this time he chose—without notifying anybody of his intentions—not to play.
He would go on to sign a big deal in free agency with the New York Jets, though some have speculated as to whether or not he actually got what he was looking for—and reports indicated that by that time the Jets were really only bidding against themselves.
Bell couldn’t help but to respond to a user bringing this up, asking if he ended up getting less than he wants. “No silly”, he said, “I just know what my worth is”, adding that he knows how to read and understand contracts, and that those commenting on his deal have never seen one and don’t know how to understand it.
He added that Jones “knows what he doin, trust”.
lol no silly…I just know what my worth is, & how to read and understand contracts…obviously people like you never seen an NFL contract or been in the NFL, so you will NEVER understand…& I’m content with that! @StoneColdJones knows what he doin, trust https://t.co/etJw8Puozc
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 1, 2020
All players are, of course, entirely within their collectively bargained rights to sit out a season if they are not under contract, which is the case for any player who has been given a franchise tag deal that they have not yet signed.
There is some debate as to whether or not such a player financially benefits from sitting out, but of course that decision is predicated on risk mitigation due to injury. Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this really wouldn’t be the worst season to choose to sit out.