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Signing Le’Veon Bell is a Risk; But One the Steelers Might Just Have to Take

Remember back in July when Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell uttered these words:

“I’m not a real greedy guy. I don’t play football just for money or things like that.”

Yes, those words came out of his mouth after there was a report that the running back, who is still set to be a free agent in March, was looking to make $15 million a season come 2017.

Bell also said that before he had a historical day on Sunday, rushing for a Steelers single game record as the team won their 4th straight over the Bills 27-20.

In his post game interview on the field for CBS, he spoke about his outing, but then in the end, without being provoked, uttered these words as he walked away – ‘Go Steelers.’

It appears that no matter how the season ends for the Steelers, Bell wants to stay with the black and gold, and while it’s going to be complicated on all accounts, the Steelers now had better look long and hard at keeping their best offensive player this season.

Even missing three games, Bell has put up an average of 105.3 yards per game rushing, has caught another 56.3 yards per game in the air, and has scored seven times.

He’s being talked about like he could sneak into the MVP chatter, and with every Steelers win he has a big part in, there’s no doubt his price tag is rising.

As far as the top running back deals in the NFL, Adrian Peterson is at the top at $14 million per season, followed by a guy the Steelers saw last week in Bills back LeSean McCoy, whose deal worth $40 million, $18 of which is guaranteed, and his average per year is at $8 million per season.

Jonathan Stewart at $36.5 million with the Panthers is third, he’s averaging $7.3 per season, and then is Bucs Doug Martin, whose deal is at $35.7 million, an average per year salary of $7.1 per season.

So looking at the top four deals in the NFL, Bell is putting up bigger and better numbers than them all, meaning the Steelers could have a major dilemma at the end of the season.

Bell’s already been suspended twice, and no matter how this season ends, he will only have played 16 games once, that being his second year when he put up 1361 yards and eight scores.

In the end, there’s one big thing the Steelers have going for them when they sit down at the bargaining table with Bell’s reps in 2017 – he wants from all indications to be in Pittsburgh and remain a Steeler.

“Obviously, I want to be a Steeler for my whole life. My family grew up Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and it’s crazy I even got drafted there. So I want to be with them and hopefully we’ll reach an agreement. But that will take place once that time comes,” Bell said back in July.

When it’s said and done, it’s a deal that might dictate the Steelers offensive future, but one that is going to be a risk if Bell returns based on his first four years in the league.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. DrGeorge

    December 16, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    As we’ve discussed here before in the context of other players, the collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap, and the market value of star players force all teams to balance the cost of keeping veteran talent against the likely productivity of cheaper alternatives. Matt Loede appears correct in his estimate of Bell’s salary expectations; but are the teams who employ Pederson, McCoy, Stewart, and Martin better for having paid them those lofty salaries? On this question, I will defer to Andy G., who always eschews the obvious and is eager to blind us all with the brilliance of his insights and profanity as he parses the logic of the many alternatives.

    • Andy G

      December 17, 2016 at 1:29 am use smart words cause your a Dr right..stfu

  2. Dave B.

    December 16, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    If Bell is looking for a contract comparable to what Adrian Peterson is getting , my advice is , keep looking , because he wont get it in Pittsburgh . The Steelers will not and definitely should not pay him 14 million dollars a season when hes proven he cant control himself in the offseason . Hes thrown his teammates and organization under the bus two years in a row due to the fact he would rather smoke weed and get high than prepare for an upcoming season like his teammates . At he end of the day , make him a fair offer , somewhere in the 10 to 12 million dollar range . If he balks and tries to play hard ball with the team , then slap the franchise tag on him . Either way , he will be in a Steeler uniform next season . Lastly , if Bell thinks he has leverage , hes fooling himself . He already has two strikes with the league against him and two suspensions as well . One more , and his days in Pittsburgh are probably over .

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