For Le’Veon Bell, if you’ve gone this far, why stop now?
The Le’Veon Bell situation has been all over the place, but for the first time in a few weeks, we know the direction it’s headed.
˙˙˙ɯǝɥʇ uo ʎןɹɐǝןɔ s’ʇɐɥʇ &˙˙˙sǝuıן ǝɥʇ uǝǝʍʇǝq pɐǝɹ ʎןdɯıs ʇsnظ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ ǝʞɐʇ ʇ’uop ǝןdoǝd ʇsoɯ ʇnq˙˙˙op p’noʎ ʇɐɥʍ ʇ’usı sıɥʇ ǝqʎɐɯ ǝsnɐɔǝq suoısıɔǝp ʎɯ ɟɟo ǝɯ ǝbpnظ ʇ’uop˙˙˙buıop ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇnoqɐ pǝıɹɹoʍ & ǝɟıן ʎɯ uo uoıuıdo uɐ sɐɥ ʎpoqʎɹǝʌǝ ʇnoqɐ ʇsnظ
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) November 7, 2018
ʇuıod ʎɯ pǝʌoɹd ǝʌ’noʎ 'buıʎɐs ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇno ǝɹnbıɟ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ buıpuıɟ ʎןןɐǝɹ ǝɹ’noʎ ɟı osןɐ˙˙˙poıɹǝd 'sɹǝǝd ʎɯ ɟo ʇsǝɹ ǝɥʇ puɐ 'ʎןıɯɐɟ 'ɟןǝsʎɯ ɹoɟ ʇɥbıɹ sı ǝʌǝıןǝq ı ʇɐɥʍ ɹoɟ buızıboןodɐ ʇou ɯ’ı
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) November 7, 2018
First of all, bravo to Le’Veon Bell for these tweets. I still have no idea how to write tweets upside down. The fact that he sent out serious messages upside down, which then made people turn their phones upside down, is a what I like to call a power move. Plus, it’s hysterical, so I have to respect the troll job he just pulled.
Back to football. After weeks of holding out, Bell finally has to make a decision on whether to show up for the remainder of the season or sit out the rest of it. Bell must sign his franchise tender by this Tuesday, Nov. 13, to retain his eligibility for this season. Bell is back in Pittsburgh, and many believe that signifies his return to the Steelers this week. Contrary to popular belief, Bell will not make a living playing basketball on LA Fitness courts.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was indeed playing basketball at the LA Fitness in Pittsburgh, an LA Fitness manager confirmed. He's back in town. Six days until the deadline to report and play this season.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 7, 2018
There is a Loophole
As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. It turns out that there’s a contract loophole that his agents just discovered about how Bell could be tagged again next year, but at an even higher number. First of all, if you’re Bell’s agents, HOW did you just discover this now with days remaining before his decision? This should’ve been known on Day 1 of his holdout. Anyway, here is what NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the other day.
“My understanding is the NFL management council and the NFL Players’ Association, the parties that negotiated the collective bargaining agreement, are on the same page that if Bell were tagged a third time, whether he shows up this season, whether he sits out the entire year, that tag would be at the higher quarterback number, not the lower number similar to what he would be due under the franchise tag this year,” Pelissero said on NFL Up To the Minute on Tuesday. “It would be extremely unlikely for the Steelers to put that higher third franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell. That would set up a scenario where they’d tag him a third time, the number is upwards of $25 million and Bell, if he wanted to, could walk in the day he’s tagged, sign it and be owed $25 million for one season.”
25 million for one year? Bell would sign that in a heartbeat! Will the Steelers put the tag on Bell next year? To quote Vince McMahon, “No chance in hell.” It’s clear that Bell is not in the plans for the future of the Steelers especially with how well James Conner has done as Bell’s replacement. (Conner is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards.) If they could not figure out a long-term deal the previous two seasons, I don’t see how the Steelers would now have a change of heart and sign him to a long-term deal in the offseason. They are also not going to tag Bell again so they would let him walk into free agency, which is what Bell has wanted all along. However, the Steelers do want him to return this year. Why wouldn’t they? Bell makes the Steelers a better team, and when Bell is on the field, he’s a Top 3 running back in the NFL.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 8, 2018
Should Le’Veon Bell play the rest of the season?
No. To reiterate what I said earlier, if you’ve gone this far, why stop now?
If this were about money, Bell would have signed his $14.5 million franchise tender back in the off-season. Right now, if Bell were to play, he’d make around half of that. Bell has already left $7 million on the table right now. I don’t think this is about money. This is about principle. Bell wants to be paid what he feels he’s worth, which is top running back money with a long-term deal. Bell has earned a big payday with his performance on the field the past five seasons, and for some, they will call Bell selfish because if he signed his franchise tender this year in the off-season, he would’ve made $29 million in two years. That’s more than life-changing money to the average person.
Make no mistake about it. If Bell becomes a free agent, he will get the deal he wants or at least something in the neighborhood. Todd Gurley reset the running back market with a 4 year, $60 million ($45 million guaranteed extension) a few months ago. Bell will want a contract similar to that and it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t earned it. I understand the crowd that argues you can find a stud running back in the later rounds of the draft. CC: Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, etc. That being said, Bell is no slouch. Bell had 1,291 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns last season to go along with 85 receptions, 655 yards, and 2 TDs. Bell is a special talent that is still in the prime of his career. A team with cap room will sign him this offseason. The Jets, Texans, and Colts will all be knocking on Bell’s doorstep once the season ends and one of those teams should give Bell what he wants.
Because of this, why should Bell risk playing this year? He’s saved his body a lot of hits so far. Why not save yourself from hits even more? Football is so unpredictable. Any hit you take could be your last. Look at Earl Thomas in Seattle. He held out for most of the off-season in hopes of signing a long-term contract. Thomas didn’t get that but came back days before the season started. A couple of weeks later, Thomas broke his foot and is out for the rest of the season in a contract year. That’s the risk Bell will take if he comes back and plays. It’s not like teams will be taking a chance on a player that is coming off of a serious injury. Teams who sign Bell will be getting a player who is 100% healthy, fresh, and in the prime of his career. Essentially, he redshirted this season. Bell will get paid one way or another this offseason. Why risk his health when he will get paid anyway?
Sitting out the rest of the season is not personal. It’s just business, and for Le’Veon Bell, it’s a good decision.