PITTSBURGH — When Le’Veon Bell turned down the Pittsburgh Steelers’ five-year, $70 million deal final offseason, they entertained the concept that perhaps he merely did not wish to be in Pittsburgh anymore.
The best way Bell noticed it, that deal seemed nice on paper however wasn’t full of sufficient ensures ($17 million) to threat taking the sphere once more on a franchise tag.
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However the math nonetheless does not fairly add up after Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million cope with the New York Jets that may rise to $61 million with incentives. The Jets deal doubles the Steelers’ ensures, which appeases Bell.
If Bell performed a wholesome season in 2018, although, would he have gotten the identical deal from the Jets now, making certain he is $14.5 million up because of the 2018 tag? Maybe, although Bell did not wish to assume that threat.
Both method, Pittsburgh felt Bell seen their assure construction as a simple out. All base salaries are non-guaranteed in a Steelers contract, which solely ensures the signing bonus and perhaps a first-year roster bonus. However the crew constructions its offers as if the primary two years may as properly be assured. They intend to pay productive, hard-working gamers for the whole lot of a contract, and so they normally do. In addition they willingly restructure contracts, which provides extra useless cash and makes a participant more durable to chop.
With that in thoughts, the Steelers had cause to marvel why Bell did not simply take their deal as a substitute of guess on resetting a market that did not really need resetting. Bell entered free company in search of $15 million to $16 million per 12 months. This deal is available in at $13.125 million with the possibility to hit $15 million. Readability on that construction will come within the subsequent few days when the complete contract is launched, and the way the primary two years are structured will probably be key.
Le’Veon Bell did not get the cash he sought, however he did discover a place to play that wasn’t Pittsburgh. Don Wright/AP Photograph
The optimist’s view is Bell took a 12 months off and nonetheless acquired principally what he wished. However the Steelers’ unique deal provided extra general incomes energy, and they’re nonetheless kind of dumbfounded Bell did not take it.
Bell had an opportunity to play a decade in Pittsburgh on his option to almost $100 million in earnings and a everlasting place in black-and-gold folklore.
Whereas Antonio Brown’s relationship with the group — together with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin — frayed, Bell usually had no points with the crew outdoors of the rocky negotiations. He was well-liked within the locker room and labored laborious.
However staying there wasn’t in Bell’s plans, and the Steelers nonetheless do not know precisely why.
Particularly after this week.