NFL Star May Not Play For Half The Season Over Contract Dispute
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell could potentially sit for half of the season this year if he does not get a new contract, according to ESPN.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on Ross Tucker’s show on Sirius XM Radio, “I think it’s possible Le’Veon Bell sits out the first half of the year if he doesn’t get a long-term deal done. The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches.”
Bell and the Steelers had until 4 p.m. Monday to decide if they can reach a new deal or just sign the franchise tag. The two sides were unable to come to an agreement.
Bell held out last year in a similar situation, and did not return to the Steelers until the first week of September. Last year, the Steelers reportedly offered him a deal that would give him nearly $18 million in his first year, but they never were able to agree to the terms. The contract would then offer him an average of $13 million. Bell was adamant that he would earn $15 million a year or more, trying to reset the running back market.
This year, they have said multiple times that they are working toward a deal, but no agreement has been reached. If Bell decides to skip 10 regular season games or more, he would lose $8.5 million. He needs to report to the Steelers by Week 10, otherwise he cannot play for the Steelers this year and will not earn the $14.5 million from the franchise tag.
Last year, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and had 655 yards receiving, while having 11 total touchdowns in 15 games. He had career-highs of 321 rushes and 85 receptions for the Steelers, who lost in the AFC Divisional Round to the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-42. Bell had 155 total yards and two touchdowns in that game.
The Steelers absolutely cannot afford to have Bell out for half of the season. Bell is what keeps that offense going. He, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger are the keys to the Steelers’ success. With one of them out, that takes an entire dimension out of their offense, which could hurt their chances at a Super Bowl. Roethlisberger’s window is closing, too, so the Steelers need to get on with signing Bell. I understand the Steelers are not ones for bending to their player’s needs, but Bell is a different situation. Steelers need to pay the man as soon as possible.