Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bell Likely Wants Long-Term Deal, but Time Gets Short

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bell Likely Wants Long-Term Deal, but Time Gets Short

Article excerpt

Why has running back Le'Veon Bell not signed the franchise tag the Steelers placed on him more than three months ago?

When he does sign it, he will be guaranteed $12.12 million this season, which would make him by far the best-paid halfback in the NFL in 2017. Next is LeSean McCoy with an average of $8 million on a five-year, $40 million deal with the Buffalo Bills that goes through 2019, according to figures kept by Over The Cap.

Bell prefers to receive a multiple-year contract, and while the sides have been negotiating toward that end, it might not get done.

Bell had groin surgery in March and did not appear at any of the 10 voluntary organized team activity (OTA) sessions over the past three weeks, although he did visit UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to be examined by the Steelers medical staff two weeks ago. Teammates have said they wished he had attended those sessions regularly, even if he could not practice.

While attendance at minicamp, which begins Tuesday, is mandatory and players can be fined for not being there, those without contracts such as Bell are not required to participate, although the Steelers believe he might attend. Bell's agent has been trying to negotiate a multiple-year contract. If none is forthcoming by July 15, Bell must play under the one-year deal because by rule that is the deadline for franchise players to sign new contracts this year.

Signing his franchise deal now would have no bearing on whether Bell can then sign a new contract before July 15. LaMarr Woodley did just that after the Steelers made him their franchise player in 2011, signing a six-year, $61.5 million contract that replaced the one-year, $10 million franchise tag.

The problem with Bell and the Steelers agreeing to a long-term contract is that starting point - $12.12 million guaranteed for one season. Bell, like Woodley, would no doubt take that annual average or somewhat less over four or five years.

But what would be the signing bonus/guarantees? Since he already is guaranteed $12.12 million, it would have to approach twice that in guarantees for a long-term deal to get done, it would seem. …

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