The clock is ticking for the Steelers to sign Le’Veon Bell to a multi-year deal. Mike Tomlin is optimistic the two sides can get a deal done.
Mike Tomlin has a reputation of shooting straight with both Steelers players and fans. That’s why his latest comments about the team’s contract negotiations with Le’Veon Bell should be highly encouraging for fans who want to see the talented rusher stay in Pittsburgh for years to come.
The Steelers head coach told WAVY in Virginia that he’s both “excited and hopeful” that Bell will sign a long-term deal before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement before then, Bell will work on another one-year deal this season. That would dramatically increase the chances of 2018 being his last year with the Steelers.
The best part about this news for Pittsburgh fans is that Tomlin believes both sides want to make a deal happen. At the very least, both the team and Bell’s representatives are involved in active negotiations. As long as everyone is still communicating, there’s a significant chance a deal can be struck.
Bell is obviously a vital piece to the Steelers current offense. If Ben Roethlisberger stands any chance of riding off into the sunset after a Super Bowl victory, he’s going to need Bell to line up in the backfield behind him. Roethlisberger is blessed with a lot of receiving weapons, but Bell’s ability to threaten defenses on the ground and through the air sets everyone else up for success.
Keeping him in the fold for multiple years should also help Pittsburgh ultimately transition from Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph under center. Big Ben claims he wants to play another five years, but it’s much more likely the Steelers will make a change at quarterback some time in the next two or three seasons. Rudolph’s chances of success are greatly increased if Bell is still on the team when he takes the controls.
Steelers fans will have a much better idea about the team’s offensive future when Monday afternoon rolls around. If Tomlin is correct, that future will still be tied to Le’Veon Bell performing as an All-Pro running back in Pittsburgh.