1-Man’s Opinion on Sports–Friday “Steelers-vs-Star Player–Who’s the Bad Guy-Or-New Way to Do Business in NFL”
“Steelers-vs-Star Player-Way of Doing Business”
It’s like standing on a street corner in downtown Pittsburgh, yelling at the other guy on the other corner.
No one is going to win the argument, and the fans might likely wind up as a loser.
The year long contract battle for superstar running back Le’Veon Bell is now over.
Franchise tagged at (14.6M) in the last off season, he refused to sign the contract, held out, and as the final deadline for him to report to the team, he walked away from the money still on the table, ending his relationship. He’s elected to sit out the entire NFL season.
In the midst of all this, the Steelers are rolling as a team, with bright young running back James Connor having a banner year. But we don’t know if Connor is the equal to Bell.
We know a lot of facts for certain.
In 5-years in Pittsburgh, Bell became a superstar. He had (1,541-touches) running and receiving, an amazing workload. He had (7,996-all purpose yards) a spectacular stat. He leaves Pittsburgh with 42-career TDs.
Where as Ben Roethlisberger may be the heart-soul of Steeler football, Bell and fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown made that engine fire.
We know Pittsburgh is paying the quarterback 18-M a year, salary and guaranteed signing bonus, a state of the art contract for top stars in the NFL, and he is one.
We know Brown got a contract extension last season, and will earn him 4.2M going forward, with bigger paydays coming, pretty impressive money for a pretty impressive player.
But Bell wanted more, lots more, in the neighborhood of 20M a year average.
And he wanted a likely 5-year contract, and wanted upwards of 50M guaranteed.
That is not the way the Steelers have done business. Pittsburgh made him a big offer, at least in neon lights, it seemed that way, a (5Y-70M) upgrade, but only 17M of that was guaranteed. If he got hurt, all he had to show was the guaranteed coming.
Bell viewed it as an insult, when you consider his productivity and the comparisons to the contract the LA Rams just gave their star running back Todd Gurley, a package just north of 50M overall, but 45M of that guaranteed.
There are lots of ways to look at this angry divorce.
Some Steeler teammates feel betrayed, that a 14.6M guarantee is a huge amount. Others felt lied to, because the running back kept saying he was coming to camp and would join the team for the playoff run.
Others rooted for Bell, for whatever he got, would help other players get big paydays in the future, in a sidebar game ‘can you top this’.
And Bell’s public stance has merit, other guys get huge guarantees, I am a complete superstar, I’m not risking injury on a 1-year deal without future guarantees. Reward me for what I just did, pay me for what I might do, like other teams do.
It’s a different NFL game now, not just touchdown passes, touchdown runs, quarterback sacks, and 11-wins seasons.
Now it’s a money game, with each new contract topping the contract of the last superstar at a position.
NFL quarterbacks are getting 20-to-23M a year going forward, as witnessed by what Atlanta just handed QB-Matt Ryan.
Bell will go on the open market in February. He’s not a used up or beat up running back. He is still a young (26), and there are some clubs with huge salary cap space that might make a run at him. The Colts, who have QB-Andrew Luck. The Jets and their young phenom QB-Sam Darnold. Even the Raiders, with a likely Jon Gruden sales pitch coming.
Of course there are other things to consider.
Is Bell a good teammate after what he just did to the loyalty that was the Steelers lockeroom?
He gave up 14.6M in that last year salary, a ton of doe, even for a guy who has made good money in his first four years.
But the one thing he will never get back, a year’s worth of athleticism for sitting out the season. It’s not like Bell can put the 2018-lost season in his pocket, and cash it in for an extra year when he turns 32. Just doesn’t work that way in the NFL.
Only time will tell where he goes, how big a payday he gets.
The Steelers seem fine right now. Le’Veon Bell will be fine too.
And on the street corners and bars in Pittsburgh the debate will go on the rest of the season, into the playoffs, and likely into free agency.
You can argue all you want, it won’t change things.
Le’Veon Bell just did, what Khalil Mack did to the Raiders early in the season, and what more stars will do walking down the gold brick road.
It’s just the new way mega stars do business vs NFL teams, who make mega-profits.