The Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to come to terms with running back Le’Veon Bell on a long term contract extension, and so he is set to play the 2017 season under the franchise tag. There is some speculation he might hold out through training camp, but regardless, his thoughts on his contract are rather intriguing.
Bell reportedly was offered a deal that would average over $12 million per year, with $30 million paid in the first two years, and $42 million over three years, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Bell instead decided to play on the $12.1 million franchise tag. It is worth noting we don’t know what the guaranteed money was like on this contract.
In an interview with ESPN, Bell said he hopes to be valued as more than just a running back who could run the ball 30 times in a game. Instead, he is hoping to get valued as a RB1 and a WR2. He was effectively the Steelers No. 2 receiver last season, finishing second on the team with 75 catches and 616 yards, even after sitting out the first four games.
Ike Taylor, a former teammate of Bell, told NFL Network he thought Bell would be looking at $15 million per year, looking at it as $12.1 million for the running back franchise tag, and then $3 million more for his receiving skills. Bell has said he wants to revive a struggling running back market.
More power to Bell, but this seems like a tough uphill slog. I suppose Kyle Juszczyk managed to finagle himself a contract that reflects more than just a traditional fullback contract. Part of that is the 49ers having plenty of money to offer, but part of is the 49ers are not going to use him strictly as a fullback. I don’t know where he’ll end up in terms of total catches, rushes, and so forth, but it’s possible nobody will be quite as involved in more aspects of the offense as Juszczyk.
This is not quite the same kind of role Bell is looking at for his compensation, but it’s the idea of being more than just what you are labeled. We joke about John Lynch calling Kyle Juszczyk an “offensive weapon,” but players need to get creative if they are going to figure out bigger contracts for themselves.