Grading historical past: Le’Veon Bell made Steelers case for them
Ex-Steelers working again Le’Veon Bell infamously sat out of the 2018 season attributable to a contract dispute. Right here’s how we’d grade the scenario.
As soon as upon a time, when Huge Ben was greater than only a speaking statue and Antonio Brown was threading collectively Professional Bowl seasons slightly than pulling on the thread of sanity, a working again from Michigan State was beginning to take the league by storm.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Le’Veon Bell within the second spherical of the 2013 NFL Draft in a transfer that might usher in golden years of success within the floor recreation however finish on a extremely controversial observe.
After placing collectively 5 productive seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell selected to carry out for all the 2018 season when he and the Steelers group couldn’t agree on an extension.
Bell was coming off a Professional Bowl and All-Professional yr through which he scored a career-high 9 touchdowns and recorded his third profession 1,000-plus yard marketing campaign, so it was fairly clear the place his head was at: he needed long-term stability and a profitable contract from the one crew he’s ever recognized.
In March of 2018, the Steelers determined to franchise-tag him for the second straight yr. Bell then sat out of all crew actions that summer time, missed the primary 9 common season video games, and did not report back to the Steelers on the Nov. 13 deadline to signal the tag.
He was thus ineligible to take part within the 2018 NFL season, and by that time, divorce was rearing its ugly head and Bell and the Steelers have been branching out on completely different paths.
5 years later, listed here are the grades for all sides concerned within the ordeal.
Grading the Le’Veon Bell holdout: Steelers get an A-
Whew. The Steelers dodged a bullet there.
Kudos to the Pittsburgh brass for not giving into one participant’s calls for and as an alternative trusting their intestine, even when it took them two franchise tags to uncover the nasty reality.
It’s harmful and futile to play the “What If?” recreation, so we’re not happening that route. Had the Steelers handed Bell the contract he was in search of, who is aware of what would have occurred? These sort of alternate universe situations must be reserved for the films.
As a result of for all we all know, had Pittsburgh taken a chunk of the all the things bagel and opened their wallets for Bell, they might have opened the Pandora’s field of ruinous prospects for the franchise.
As an alternative, the Steelers provided Bell two contracts throughout negotiations, each of which have been reportedly price lower than Bell’s desired quantity ($14.5 million annual wage). The 2 sides remained unable to conform to a long-term answer, inflicting Pittsburgh to franchise-tag Bell the primary time in 2017.
The one cause the Steelers don’t get an A+ for his or her dealing with of this case is as a result of they opted to position the franchise tag on Bell a second time in 2018, even after Bell warned the crew he would contemplate holding out if he was tagged once more.
The Steelers could have simply been calling Bell’s bluff, however that’s a dangerous recreation to play with the crew’s prime working again and one of many hottest potential commodities in the marketplace. Upon discovering out that Bell wasn’t keen to budge on his contract calls for one yr later, Pittsburgh ought to have simply reduce off the thorn in 2018.
Grading the Le’Veon Bell holdout: Bell will get a D
Everybody is aware of who misplaced this battle, regardless of how a lot Bell refuses to confess it. He could very nicely deserve an “F,” however we’re giving him some credit score for believing in himself and his inflated worth.
The ex-Steeler stated two years in the past that he doesn’t remorse sitting out in 2018 and truly thinks that it helped him within the backend of his profession.
“I don’t know, it sort of like reset my physique. I really feel prefer it’s going to assist me for the top of my profession, elongate my profession.”
By the top of Bell’s time within the NFL, there was simply no profession left to “elongate.”
Following his holdout, the New York Jets gave Bell a shiny new four-year contract price $52.5 million with $35 million assured, making him the second-highest paid working again on the time.
Effectively, the Jets get an enormous fats “F” for that transfer. Bell would solely play 17 video games over the following two seasons and rushed for a measly 863 yards and three touchdowns, inflicting the Jets to dump him midway via the deal and neglect their losses.
Bell would bounce round on three completely different NFL groups earlier than lastly realizing that his as soon as highly-touted profession had been flushed into the sewers. He performed his final recreation for the Buccaneers in 2021, after which he picked up completely different hobbies, as any participant cradling his bruised ego would possibly do.
In whole, Bell made roughly $28 million after leaving the Steelers, which continues to be chunk of money, nevertheless it was his repute that took the largest hit. He almost bought a hoop by hiding on the Chiefs’ 2020 roster, but apart from that fast-tracked declare to fame, his post-Steelers stints have been full of mediocrity and inconsistency.
As of 2023, Bell hasn’t technically retired from the league, although he did point out that he needed to retire as a Steeler. It’s hardly a shock that Bell would need to symbolically finish his NFL profession on the crew that drafted him and the one he loved essentially the most success with, however from the Steelers’ perspective? They’ll nonetheless scent the smoke from the burnt bridges and could shrug their shoulders as if to say: “No thanks, we’re good.”