LeVeon Bell wants to remain a Pittsburgh Steeler and Art Rooney II wants him to stay. With both parties in agreement on the matter, it would be logical to believe that they will eventually meet at a dollar amount that will make them both happy. For now though, both parties will have to wait another 7 months before they can resume searching for that magical amount as the deadline to do so has come and gone. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the 5 year deal offered by the Steelers, and rejected by Bell, would have paid him $30 million in the first two years, $42 million over three years, with an average annual value of $12 million.
Was it the guaranteed money that didn’t satisfy Bell? Because the Steelers don’t typically guarantee money beyond the first year and Bell should have gone in knowing that. Chances are that Bell will be playing the next two years under the “exclusive” franchise player tag which will pay him around $26.6 million, and prevents him from negotiating with any other team. With that being likely, who could blame Bell if he wanted $26.6 million in guaranteed money in his long term deal. That would certainly not be an unreasonable request by Bell to make since that money is guaranteed if he plays for two years under the exclusive franchise player tag.
What is known for sure is that LeVeon Bell doesn’t feel like the Steelers value him as high as Bell values himself and apparently, according to Ike Taylor, feels he should be paid equal to being the NFL’s best running back…AND…a number two receiver. As crazy and greedy as Bell’s statement to Taylor may sound, it isn’t entirely untrue. Based on his average of 157 total yards per game, he would have finished with 2,512 total yards from scrimmage had he played in all 16 games. His 105.6 average yards rushing per game would have given him 1,690 over 16 games, 59 more than league leader Ezekiel Elliot.
Last season, Bell carried the Steelers to the postseason, averaging 157 total yards per game, including 105.6 yards on the ground. He set a team record of 236 yards rushing against the Bills, and then in back to back post postseason games against the Dolphins and Chiefs, Bell set a Steelers single game postseason rushing record with 167 yards and then 170 yards. For his career, LeVeon Bell is averaging 86.0 yards per game on the ground, 42.6 yards through the air, an average of 128.6 total yards per game, the highest in NFL history.
Just how much is the man with the highest total yards per game average in NFL history worth? How much is his value compared to that of members of his own team? Well, if the Steelers didn’t hold games lost to injury and suspension against him, that certainly does not factor into the eqation. Bell is much more than just your regular running back. He has a running style that is unique to him, and he does things no other NFL running back can do, so his value as a running back can’t really be compared to any of the others, but his true value lies somewhere between Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
Ben Roethlisberger’s most recent contract was for 4 year/$87,400,000. It included a $31,000,000 signing bonus.
Contract: 4 yr/ $87,400,000, Average Salary: $21,850,000, Guaranteed at Signing: $31,000,000, Signing Bonus: $31,000,000.
Antonio Brown’s latest contract was a 4 year/$68,000,000 deal that included a $19,000,000 signing bonus.
Bell’s versatility and value to the Steelers offense makes him worth at least as much as AB, and while a 5 yr/$60 million deal is not cheap by any means, and more than I thought the Steelers would offer, but it’s understandable why he turned it down. Perhaps if the Steelers had offered Bell a $16 million signing bonus and guaranteed $26.6 million, Bell would be locked up for his age 25-29 years, but as it stands now, Bell has yet to enter his prime years, with time for both sides to get a long term deal done. Despite the failure to wrap up Bell this season, neither side holds any animosity, and neither side is wrong. LeVeon Bell is simply a most uniquely talented player, and when both side figure out what that value is, they will shake hands and sign on the dotted line.