The Pittsburgh Steelers and those who represent Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell went down to the wire trying to get a long-term deal done, but that 4PM deadline to sign franchised players came and went yesterday.
The Steelers aren't the gambling types and they would be taking a risk by guaranteeing Bell a ton of money in a long-term contract. Bell is scheduled to be a free agent after the upcoming season, and doesn't appear to be too happy about it. In keeping with this theme, Bell took to social media Monday evening to speak out about the lack of a long-term deal. This means that Bell would have been swapping one year at $12.1 million for one year at whatever the offer would have paid this year (we still don't know) plus a team-held option for 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
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Bell said he rejected the Steelers' offer because he didn't want to contribute to the devaluation of the running back position. As expected, Bell's negotiations with the Steelers pressed against the deadline of July 17 at 4 p.m. ET, a similar theme with star players such as Dez Bryant and Von Miller in recent years.
General manager Kevin Colbert says the team will "resume its efforts" to re-sign Bell next offseason. Plus, Bell's franchise tag in 2018 would be around $14 million, and no one knows if he's going to be comfortable pushing out another year and making over $26 million in two seasons.
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Bell's 2017 contract ranks second among running backs next season in terms of total cash.
The franchise tag was placed on Bell in February, which prevented him from becoming a free agent and gave the Steelers more time to negotiate a contract with Bell. "But it'll be substantial money and he'll be the highest-paid running back in the National Football League". He's considered one of the most complete running backs in the game. In the wake of a couple of knee injuries through his first four seasons, Bell underwent surgery in March to fix a groin problem.
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"It is fun to sit and watch and just see what [Bell] is going to do because he is incredibly talented", said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last season.