The Pittsburgh Steelers have a big decision to make on whether to sign all-pro running back Le’veon Bell to a long term contract before the start of the 2016-2017 NFL season. Bell is entering the final year of his contract which historically is the time the front office will resign players. The Steelers training camp is less than 2 weeks away and the organization does not negotiate new contracts during the season to avoid any distractions. So, the time is ticking.
The Steelers have 3 options:
- Get the deal done now. Sign Bell to a 4 year deal (at the most) averaging 10-12 million a year. Preferably, I would only sign him to a 3 year deal but I don’t think Bell and his agent would go for that. 15 million/year as implied in his recent rap song is not going to happen and Bell as admitted as much.
- Franchise him next year. The Steelers could franchise him for approximately 15 mil next year if they can’t get a deal done this year or if they want to take a “wait and see” approach. The wait and see approach does make sense given Bell’s injury history
- Let him walk after this year. This might happen especially if the organization has durability concerns which is valid. He hasn’t played an entire season and has already had 2 straight knee injuries requiring surgery.
There is little doubt that Le’veon Bell is the most dynamic RB in the league. You can’t replace a player like that. The NFL odds makers have the Steelers and New England Patriots as the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Those odds are with a healthy Le’veon Bell. The Steelers are a different team with him on the field especially given his receiving threat.