It’s time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to put up or shut up. They’re running out of time to lock down Le’Veon Bell for the long haul.
Monday is a big day for Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two sides have until 4:00 pm ET to come to terms on a multi-year contract extension. If that doesn’t happen, the Steelers can only sign him to a one-year contract.
That possibility is fraught with danger for the franchise. If they can only get Bell to agree to a one-year deal, they’re going to be put in a bad spot at the end of the 2018 season. The front office would then have to either let him hit unrestricted free agency or franchise him for the third time. Remember, franchising one player for the third time requires the team to pay the designee at the going rate for a quarterback.
There have been vague rumors of progress between the two sides this summer, but things have gone awkwardly silent as of late.
Some might interpret that as a good sign that everyone is working hard behind the scenes to strike a deal. More cynical Steeler fans might assume Bell’s time in Steel Town is coming close to an end.
Losing him would obviously be a massive blow to Mike Tomlin’s offense. Bell has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL ever since he entered the league in 2013. There may be some concerns about the pounding he’s taken during his short career, but he’s just 25-years-old. His camp certainly believes he can continue to play at an All-Pro level for several more seasons.
The right answer for Pittsburgh here is to give Bell big money, but to make sure they don’t give him too many years. Breaking the bank for a three-year contract for one of the most talented backs in the NFL is expensive, but isn’t a massive risk. Giving Bell a five-year deal that would take him into his 30s would be a much more dangerous move.
Ultimately, the Steelers front office just has to decide whether or not they’re willing to spend big on a running back. Most organizations aren’t, but Bell isn’t most running backs. It’s going to be an interesting 48 or so hours in Pittsburgh.