The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an 0-1-1 start after a disappointing tie with the Cleveland Browns and home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Off the field, there’s been more drama than a primetime soap opera. And one player who could undoubtedly help but hasn’t reported to the team may not be with Pittsburgh for long.
Steelers listening to offers
Citing league sources, ESPN reported on Sunday just before the early games kicked off that the Steelers are now listening to trade offers for running back Le’Veon Bell.
Pittsburgh designated Bell as its franchise player this year for the second consecutive season. But unlike last year, when Bell sat out all offseason workouts and the preseason but reported at the start of the regular season, he is still staying away from the Steelers.
The move is greatly impacting Bell’s pocketbook in the short term, but he’s seemingly taking a big-picture approach: for every week he sits out, Bell is saving his body 27 or so hits based on the 406 touches he got in 15 regular-season games in 2017.
Teams need draft capital and cap space
In order to get Bell, teams would need two things: the draft capital to get one of the best offensive players in the NFL, and about $12 million in cap space for 2018.
We’re well past the deadline for Bell to have signed a long-term contract, so any team that gets him will be on the hook for the remainder of his franchise tender, which at this point is $11.98 million. And also needs the money to sign Bell for the future, since teams won’t give up something like a first-round pick for a 12-game rental.
News is not a surprise
The report that Pittsburgh is listening to trade offers shouldn’t be a surprise: as of right now, it seems like there’s nothing more happening than general manager Kevin Colbert fielding phone calls, and teams do that every week.
But beyond that, the relationship between Bell and the Steelers is clearly fractured. Pittsburgh likely wanted another season of running Bell into the ground — his 406 regular-season touches were 50 more than any other player in the league last year — and would then let him go, where his market would likely be depressed after two seasons of 800 or so touches. And if Bell gets hurt playing on the franchise tag, his future monies would really take a hit.
Bell wants a big payday, and since most running backs only get one, it’s hard to blame him. If he can get that with another team and the Steelers can get some high draft picks, that might be the best result that comes from this situation at this point.
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