NFL rumors claim Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers may be at odds regarding the terms of his new contract.
The franchise running back, who fell to fifth overall in the NFL this past season amidst a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy, is believed by many to be pursuing the security of a long-term deal while he is still very healthy and productive. Last year, Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns, and he also caught 75 passes for an additional 616 yards.
In the playoffs, Bell rushed for 167 and 170 yards, respectively, against the Dolphins and Chiefs, but left the team’s AFC Championship game against New England with a groin injury after just six carries. These stats come via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Without a new contract, Bell would otherwise make a lump sum of $12 million for a single season as the Steelers’ designated franchise tag.
“We still going to work towards it,” he said of the NFL rumors.
Le’Veon Bell was a guest on TMZ Sports. “Me and the Steelers want to work together. We’re going to work towards a longterm deal leading up to the deadline. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done… but I definitely think something will work and we’ll see what happens.”
Despite being on the other side of the bankroll, Steelers’ president Art Rooney would echo those sentiments.
“Le’Veon had a great year,” said Rooney, per the Post-Gazette. “He certainly is one of the top running backs in the league, if not the best back in the league.”
Rooney also directly addressed the NFL rumors.
“[Le’Veon Bell] is somebody that we hope to have around for a little while longer, that’s for sure.”
Sadly, some Steelers fans feel that Rooney’s choice of the term “a little while longer” speaks very loudly regarding the team’s mindset toward giving a huge, multi-year payout to the 25-year-old back as he enters his fifth year with the team.
Historically, NFL running backs of Bell’s caliber earn at least one big-money deal around his age before a drop-off in statistics occurs, usually around the age of 28 or 29.
Per NFL rumors, Le’Veon Bell’s health has been called into question at times, most recently during the team’s failed bid last season to defeat the Patriots and go on to the Super Bowl following the back’s premature exit from the game due to groin issues.
Those concerns, while unlikely to be quelled as negotiations continue between the two parties, will certainly not be prohibitive to the Steelers trying to bring the running back on board once again in a way that does not ravage their salary cap.
Regardless of the NFL rumors, Le’Veon Bell is guaranteed to remain with Pittsburgh through at least the 2017 season and will not enter the general free agent pool when that period opens tomorrow, March 9.
The NFL’s deadline for teams to convert a franchise tag to a long-term deal is July 15.
One man who will become a free agent tomorrow is former Jets’ star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was released from his contract last week after struggling with his second season with the team.
Unlike NFL rumors regarding Le’Veon Bell, the 32-year-old Marshall will be going to a new home. Strangely, much like Bell, Marshall’s new home could very likely be housed in the very same stadium.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport broke the story this morning that Marshall has come to a two-year, $12 million contract to play with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard next season for the New York Giants.
Moving down the New Jersey Turnpike, talk of the Eagles trying to alleviate their own wide receiver woes have reached the clamoring stage as the team continues to be regarded as a front-runner to trade for disgruntled Saints player Brandin Cooks.
Would the Eagles consider trading the first-round pick that New Orleans covets? Most feel that Cooks, who is also believed to be pursued by the Patriots and Titans this offseason, is well worth the risk.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]