If anyone can understand what Le’Veon Bell is going through with the Steelers it’s Antonio Brown. The wide receiver wants his running back in camp.
When one player is looking to get a new contract from his team its usual for teammates to support their peer’s aspirations. That’s not exactly what’s going on in Pittsburgh. Instead of urging the team to pay Le’Veon Bell his money, Antonio Brown is pushing for the talented running back to join his team on the field.
In fairness to Brown, his comments sound more like well-intentioned advice than any sort of criticism. He told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the first rule of contract negotiations is simply to “show up.” Bell, of course, has made it clear he doesn’t want to show up for any preseason activities unless the Steelers reward him with a new, long-term contract.
In truth, it’s a tough line for Bell to walk. Undoubtedly, there’s a big part of him that would like to be practicing with his teammates. No great player, which Bell clearly is, achieves such great success without being a true competitor. Not getting the chance to test himself against his peers on a daily basis has to wear thin on Bell.
On the other hand, Bell correctly understands the market for running backs in the NFL. He understands he only has a short window to earn big money before he’s put out to pasture. Bell is only 26 years old, but he’s got a lot of NFL miles on him. This is likely his last chance to earn a lucrative multiyear deal from Pittsburgh.
In the end, it’s tough to say who has the right idea here. Brown proved that a player can get a long-term contract done with the Steelers by showing up and proving your worth on the field every day. Bell can correctly point out that he has done plenty on the field for his team in the last few years. It’s logical for him to argue that should be enough.
Look for negotiations between Bell and the Steelers to go down to the wire. Both sides have solid reasons to dig in their heels and try to wait the other side out. Brown may want Bell back in camp without a deal, but that’s not a likely outcome.