For the second year in a row, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was a pending free agent after the team failed to give him a deal of enough value for his talents. The team placed a franchise tag on Bell, forcing him to stay in Pittsburgh, and in response, he initially skipped training camp. This past season, Bell said he’d consider sitting out, or even retiring if he was tagged again, but he’s also stated that he wants to retire as a member of the Steelers organization. Luckily for Pittsburgh, Bell withdrew from those comments, saying he’d play under a franchise tag, but “nothing extra”. This leads us to believe he meant the aspect of skipping training camp once again.
This is a dangerous game the Steelers are playing, and the Washington Redskins played the same game with Kirk Cousins. The franchise tag gets more expensive each year, and before long, it’ll be better just to pay Bell the salary he is asking for. By the looks of it, the Steelers are trying to tag Bell in effort to see his value decline, much like Washington tried to do with Cousins. Now look at the situation with the Redskins and Kirk Cousins, as they’re rebuilding a completely new team without him.
However, let’s get back to Bell, as well as Pittsburgh. Bell has rushed for over 1,000+ yards every year, with the exception of his rookie season and the 2015 season in which he only played six games. He has also added more receiving yards in the passing attack of the Steelers. Bell has been the best running back in football for years, as he can compare himself as an RB1 and WR3 all in one body, so why the lack of a long-term deal?
If you’re in a situation where a player is worth a boatload of cash, you’re almost always franchise tagging him in hopes to get him on a bargain deal at a later date. By letting him walk in free agency, Pittsburgh would be losing almost half of their offense. By re-signing him on a long-term extension, the Steelers are now caught in a voluntary salary cap issue. If the eventual desire is to bet on the value of Bell decreasing after the 2018 or even 2019 season, then the Steelers will be sadly mistaken.
Do you blame the Steelers or Bell for the issue at hand? Is Bell demanding too much, or are the Steelers low-balling him?
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