We can probably all agree that $70 million is a lot of money, but apparently, it wasn't enough to get Le'Veon Bell to sign a new deal in Pittsburgh.
According to NFL.com, the Steelers made one final offer to Bell on Monday, just hours before the NFL's 4 p.m. ET deadline for teams to negotiate a new contract with their franchise player. The offer from the Steelers was worth a total of $70 million over five years (or $14 million per season). Although the offer would have given Bell the largest multi-year contract of any running back in the NFL, he turned it down, and one reason he likely did that, is because it was nowhere near his asking price, which was reportedly in the neighborhood of $17 million per season.
One other reason Bell might have turned the deal down is because it apparently wasn't loaded with any substantial guarantees. According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the contract included $33 million in guaranteed money, which was going to be paid out over the first two years. Rapoport also noted that the first three years of the deal would pay out $45 million (or $15 million per season), but didn't note if all of that money was guaranteed. As for the final two years of the deal, it seems that Bell had no guaranteed money. Of course, none of this matters now, since Bell didn't take the offer.
Instead, Bell has decided to bet on himself and he'll likely be able to cash-in big time when free agency begins in 2019. However, that's no guarantee. Even if Bell becomes a free agent next season, which is a near certainty at this point, it's no lock that a team is going to pay him the $17 million he wants. As things stand now, that salary is more than double the average annual salary of the next highest-paid running back in the NFL (Devonta Freeman, $8.25 million per year). No matter what Bell does in 2018, it's going to be tough for a any general manager to justify spending $17 million per year on a running back.
The running back market has been spiraling downward over the past few years, which is why it's somewhat surprising Bell turned down the Steelers offer. At $14 million per year, the Steelers were willing to make Bell the highest-paid running back in the league by almost $6 million per season. There's literally no other player in the league who would turn down a contract that made them the highest-paid player at their position by SIX MILLION DOLLARS.
Of course, this is all about perspective, and from Bell's perspective, it just wasn't a good offer. The Steelers running back is guaranteed $14.5 million from the franchise tag, which means the rest of Pittsburgh's offer was basically worth $55.5 million over four years and all of the sudden, you're looking at $13.87 million per year, which probably didn't sound too attractive to Bell.
Either way, 2018 will almost certainly mark Bell's final season in Pittsburgh. For more on the Bell situation and.