Will Steelers Answer the Bell with Another Franchise Tag?

By Garrett Pelto

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report recently covered and gave his take on the NFL franchise tag dilemma in Pittsburgh with, but who else, Steelers running back, Le’Veon Bell. Again.

For the second year in a row, Pittsburgh has to deal with offseason negotiations with their star running back who is responsible for 1,946 yards from scrimmage this past season (second in the league). Tanier explains that Bell signed and played under the franchise tag for $12.1 million in the 2017 season and if he is forced to sign the franchise tag again, Bell will play for $14.1 million in 2018.

Which would technically be the highest-paid running back for the season, beating Devontae Freeman’s average salary per year at $8.25 million ($41.25 million total).

Tanier argues that Bell should be THE highest-paid running back in the league. He also argues that even if Bell wants to leave, he can’t because the NFL’s market won’t bode well for a running back after another year of heavy workload, and who also hasn’t shown many signs of cooperation in the deal making process.

Tanier, sir, you are spot on. The Steelers NEED to pay the best running back in the league before he decides Pittsburgh doesn’t care for him like they should.

And I feel for LeLe. He has to keep up this image that he is working toward a deal with the Steelers, so fans don’t think he’s a stingy and selfish player.

Bell has consistently showed Steeler fans that he is more than worthy of a major deal. Like Tanier said, he is one the most recognizable players in the league and he is arguably the best running back in the game. And he is. Don’t kid yourselves with Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, or David Johnson.

lele

Via Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No one does what Bell can.

It’s hard for me to believe that Le’Veon would leave Pittsburgh. He has said he wants to be a Steeler for life and I trust that he does. But to say that some other team wouldn’t want to pay him solely because he has touched the ball a lot and already experienced knee injuries is still a stretch. Many owners would give up their least favorite child for Le’Veon and his immediate impact.

As far as the Steelers go, they have the offensive weapons: Antonio Brown, Ben Rothelisberger, Martavis Bryant (for now), JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, Jesse James and Vance McDonald. Not to mention their offensive line with three 2018 Pro Bowlers.

Pittsburgh is on the brink of another Super Bowl appearance. In 2018, they have to limit the distractions that we saw in 2017, make some changes defensively and figure out a deal with Le’Veon before OTAs and minicamp.

Thank God we paid Antonio Brown and have one less mouth to feed.

Best-case scenario is Le’Veon doesn’t hate us (and/or retire), everyone stays healthy, we beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship forcing Belichick or Brady’s retirement and we are able to restructure deals to pay Le’Veon and find a new franchise QB.

While my fortunetelling is ambitious to say the least, the Steelers know how to deal with financial predicaments like this. They usually play it safe, but they have to make some sort of move defensively due to Ryan Shazier’s injury and our mediocre, yet improving secondary.


 

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