Oh boy Steeler Nation, you might want to sit down for this one.
It’s just been reported that Le’Veon Bell may miss UP TO 10 GAMES if the Steelers do not sign him to a long term deal. While this is a staggering development, the story has stayed relatively the same throughout the entire offseason. Bell has proven himself to be one of the best RBs in the league, making the pro bowl in 3 of the last 4 seasons. Even with this, Pittsburgh has refused to sign him to a long term deal, only giving him the franchise tag for the last couple of seasons.
Last season began the same way, with Bell claiming a holdout, but he did return after only sitting out 1 game. This time around, Bell’s camp is much more serious, and is willing to forfeit over $8 M in order to reduce the wear and tear on his body going into free-agency. The Steelers offered a 5 year, $70 M contract, but Bell is asking for closer to $17.5 M per year. This is where you become nervous as a Steelers fan because Bell is an integral part of the dominant Pittsburgh offense, and many other teams around the league would pay Bell what he’s asking. Bell can take a team from out of the playoff picture to being a strong contender to make the Super Bowl instantly.
What teams would be in the running for Bell if he leaves? The main one that comes to mind would have to be the New England Patriots. Not only would having the versatility to run or gun the ball at any time improve the offense, but it would likely lengthen Tom Brady’s career by a couple of years. This is a move that I can see Bill Belichick making if Bell hits the open market.
Lastly, this could be absolutely disastrous for the Steelers, and it would wipe them out of Super Bowl contention undoubtedly. Yes, the still have Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster but without a run game I just can’t see an aging Ben Rothlisberger beating a dominant defense like Jacksonville. In fact, I had the Steelers over the Browns by just one game in my predictions yesterday. If the 10 game rest ends up going through, I think that the Browns will win the AFC North by 2+ games.
One final note, RIP to anyone who took Le’Veon Bell with the #1 pick in your fantasy draft, I hope you didn’t have any money on your league.