Contract negotiations between Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers have taken a strange turn. Bell is now using rap to communicate his contract demands.
It’s no secret that Le’Veon Bell is looking for a big deal from the Steelers. Just in case there was any doubt in the organization’s mind, their talented running back chose to deliver his message via a new rap song this week.
Bell used a track entitled “Focus” to deliver his not-so-subtle message to the Steelers front office. The song includes a verse where Bell tells listeners that he’s going to need “15 a year.” The obvious intimation is that Bell wants a contract that will pay him $15 million a year.
That isn’t a massive raise over what the Steelers paid him last season. His most recent franchise tag designation paid him just over $12 million for his 2017 season. Even so, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers paying such a high premium for a running back with so many miles on his NFL tires.
Bell didn’t limit his rap lyrics aimed at the Steelers front office to just contract demands. He also made sure to touch on the possibility of a holdout. The talented runner specifically addressed his ability to pass drug tests and stay in shape without the benefit of preseason in his lyrics. No word yet on what Mike Tomlin thought about the content or quality of Bell’s latest side project.
At any rate, without a long-term contract extension this will likely be Bell’s last season with the Steelers. They can keep him around with a franchise designation this season that would pay him $14.52 million. Next season the Steelers will lose a lot of flexibility. Franchising Bell in 2019 would force Pittsburgh to compensate him like a franchise quarterback. That would mean paying Bell somewhere north of $26 million.
That figure far exceeds the value of a top running back in the NFL today. It’s a virtual certainty that Pittsburgh would elect to pass on Bell at that number. Perhaps his fledgling rap career can help him earn some extra scratch next offseason.
Le’Veon Bell is an important player for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, but his time with the organization is almost certainly coming to a close. Don’t expect his recent rap song to do anything to advance his negotiations with the team’s front office.