The Pittsburgh Steelers and star running back Le’Veon Bell have been in a contract negotiation battle for quite some time now, but the clock is running out. They two parties have until 4 p.m. ET today, July 16th, or they may be without their workhorse for half of their 2018-19 season.
Adam Schefter Reports
Adam Schefter on Sirius XM this morning reported, “I think it’s possible Le’Veon Bell sits out half of the year if he doesn’t get a long term deal done.” Schefter also tweeted the night before that Mike Tomlin is confident a deal will be completed by the 4 p.m. deadline, but we have seen this fail in the past. The two parties came close to a deal last offseason, but it has been challenging for the Steelers to close a deal.
Why Half the Season?
When hearing this news, you may be thinking one of the two common thoughts: 1) Why Bell would sit if he wants to prove he deserves more money, or 2) Why Bell would sit only half of the season instead of the full year, or whenever he gets paid. Well, sitting half of the year would actually be a smart move for Le’Veon Bell.
First, he would still get half of the season, and possibly playoffs, to prove just how effective and important he is for the Steelers. Also, playing half of the season means less wear and tear on his body, which means teams aren’t able to make that argument to undercut him next offseason.
Playing a full season without a long term deal would mean the Steelers will try to get every ounce out of Bell. Last season, he touched the ball an obnoxious 406 times in 15 games. He touched the ball 336 times in 12 games the season before. Obviously, we’re not even talking about playoffs either.
If Bell plays the full season, he would undoubtedly be over 400 touches yet again.
What if Bell Sits?
If we find out today that a deal was not agreed upon, what will the Steelers do? When looking at everything Le’Veon Bell does on the field, it is tough to argue against him being the most important player on this offense. As of now, second-year running back James Conner would be named the starter. However, with such an experienced team with high aspirations, it could be tough to trust the young guy with only 32 career rushes.
Would the Steelers bring in an experienced vet? The first name that came to mind was the newly-retired DeMarco Murray. He would get to run behind a good offensive line and be on a team that at least has a chance for a ring.
Other veteran running backs that the Steelers could call include Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Jamaal Charles, and even Orleans Darkwa.
We now have to sit and wait until 4 p.m ET to find out which direction the Steelers will be going. The situation will become more and more clear as the day continues.