Le'Veon Bell's ex-teammate on why contract stalemate 'is a good and bad situation' for him
Bell and the Steelers have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal
Just like a year ago, Le'Veon Bell was a no-show at offseason workouts. The Steelers' running back -- one of the most dynamic players in the NFL -- is looking for a long-term deal and as long as he and the team remain at odds, Bell plans to work out on his own and show up just before the start of the regular season.
On Monday, former Steelers Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor discussed Bell's situation and what it means for his future in Pittsburgh.
"If they're not willing to pay you after two years of franchise-tagging you, who's to say they'll be willing to pay you in Year 3?" McFadden asked CBS Sports HQ's Chris Hassel.
Taylor, who said he spoke with Bell on Sunday, indicated that the running back is in phenomenal shape despite working out on his own since the end of the 2018 season.
"This is a good and bad situation for Le'Veon," Taylor said. "Good meaning everything is guaranteed with his franchise tag. Bad meaning you don't know if you're going to be a Pittsburgh Steeler for life, something I know Le'Veon wants to do. And I know the Rooneys also want to work that deal out with Le'Veon.
"On the other hand, I'm preserving my body as a running back. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm missing training camp, you know I'm staying in shape, you know my physique, you know my body of work when I get on the field. That's they way I'm looking at Le'Veon.
"Now, from a coaching standpoint and a teammate standpoint, I'm looking at it like, 'Le'Veon, you're the difference in the locker room, we love your camaraderie, you've got a different type of personality which we love, and we need you here.'
"But for Le'Veon, he has to make a business decision on a number in which he likes from the Pittsburgh Steelers."
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter wrote last week that if the Steelers and Bell can't come to terms on a long-term deal by the July 16 deadline, the running back won't report until the first week of September. If this sounds familiar it should; it's what happened last offseason, and all indications have been in recent months that the story would again play out that way if no new contract was agreed upon.
Two weeks ago, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reported that Bell and the Steelers had "" on a possible extension, and Bell told Fowler, "We are a lot closer than we were last year."
One way or the other, Bell will be in Pittsburgh in 2018 -- either on the franchise tender that will pay him $14.5 million next season or with a long-term contract. But beyond that, who knows.
There were reports that he was looking for a deal that pays him closer to $17 million annually, which is Antonio Brown money. Running backs, even those as versatile as Bell, don't command those types of contracts. And that's why Bell, for the second-straight offseason, is at home.
But even if Bell has lowered his contract expectations, it's hard to imagine the Steelers will pay him anything north of $14.5 million, especially after the team reportedly offered him a multi-year deal last offseason that averaged $12 million annually only to have Bell turn it down.
As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote in June: "The bottom line with the Steelers is that, except for quarterbacks, they aren't going to guarantee massive amounts at signing and spread those guarantees three or more years out. And while one could clearly make the argument that Bell is just as important to this offensive juggernaut as Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown, that receiver stigma, and Bell's off-field issues, in the end, will preclude him from securing a landmark pact from the Steelers by the July 16 deadline."
We'll know for sure in the coming days. But if no deal is reached, this could be his final season in Pittsburgh. Then the question becomes: Will one of the other 31 teams be willing to pay Bell, who'll be 27 in February, what he thinks he's worth?
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