The star running back is primed for a big pay day, but will it be the Steelers who pay him or another NFL team?
As we approach week eight of the regular NFL season, many fans are curious as to when Pittsburgh Steelers star running back Le’Veon Bell will end his holdout. According to Adam Schefter, Bell was supposed to end his holdout after the Steelers bye in week seven. He would then return to the field for week eight , where the Steelers will take on the much improved Cleveland Browns– a team that is lead by the number one overall pick in rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
If the Steelers were hoping these reports were true, then they may be disappointed.
Now let’s back up and talk about the holdout. Le’Veon Bell is one of the best running backs in the National Football League and he has taken a stand against the Steelers organization.
The reason: they simply don’t want to pay him the money he deserves.
Le’Veon has made his case clear: he believes he has earned the money and he doesn’t think it is worth the risk to go out and play on the franchise tag salary. His reasons absolutely make sense and are a prime example of what this sport can do to a player. This can be seen through Earl Thomas’ situation as well.
Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t agree on a long term deal before this season, but instead of holding out,like Bell,Thomas decided to play. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for Thomas, as he ended up fracturing his left leg in week four against the Arizona Cardinals. As Thomas was being carted off the field he made a statement to his team by showing them the finger.
It was a naughty statement that might have been an in-the-moment emotional one, but if anything, it was certainly a loud one. Take that however you want, but it definitely didn’t shed a positive light on his relationship with his teammates and the Seattle Seahawks organization, which stems from his contract holdout.
This NFL holdout ordeal has reached its climax, and so far, Le’Veon Bell has decided to sit out the first eight weeks of the season. Until he walks through that door of the practice facility in Pittsburgh, everyone will continue to be skeptical of his return.
I applaud him for standing up for something he feels strongly about, and quite frankly, I believe he is correct in doing so. He puts his body on the line each and every week for his team, and the statistics speak for themselves.
Le’Veon has been one of the best running backs in the NFL since his rookie year in 2013. He has been in the top five in rushing yards three of the last four years (2014, 2016, 2017). Including in only 12 games in 2016. In 2017, his most healthy season, Bell racked up 1,291 yards in 15 regular season games, which was good enough to be third in the NFL. He trailed Todd Gurley by 14 yards and NFL leader Kareem Hunt by only 36 yards. Bell decided to sit out for the final regular season game to ensure he would be healthy for the playoffs.
The only reason he didn’t reach top five in 2015 was because he had a season ending injury in week six when he tore his ACL.
Injuries have plagued his career from the get-go, beginning at the very start of his journey in the NFL. His rookie year he injured his foot in a preseason game which forced him to miss the first three weeks of the regular season. He came back and eventually became the starting running back for the Steelers as the year went along. His breakout year was his second year in the NFL where he ran for a career high 1,361 yards and also tied a career high in touchdowns with 11 total on the season.
Bell came close to escaping the injury bug in his second season before hyperextending his knee in the last regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. This injury forced him out of the Steelers’ only playoff game that season. Bell was suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season for a DUI and possession of marijuana charges, and then in week eight, he suffered a torn MCL that ended his season early.
He was suspended for the first three games at the beginning of the 2016 season for missing a drug test, but he only missed one game due to injury during the regular season. He also performed well in his first ever playoff game. In his third playoff game, the AFC championship, he injured his groin in the first half and did not return in the loss to the New England Patriots.
In 2017, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed Bell under the franchise tag,for the first time,and he agreed to play under it for the whole season. Bell was able to make it through the whole year without getting injured. He played 15 regular season games but sat out during the last regular season game to ensure that he would be healthy for the playoffs. During the playoffs, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell for the 2018 season.
This is when the holdout started.
When asked about it at the time, Bell was open and honest about the situation, saying, “I just want to be valued where I’m at,” and, “Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything. I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
Bell makes it clear that he feels his performance doesn’t match his pay. The fact of the matter is that he has every right to sit out because the man hasn’t cashed in on his massive payday yet. He’s proven to be one of the best running backs, if not the best, in all of the NFL throughout his first five seasons.
Another component of this argument is the fact that the average lifespan of an NFL running back is roughly two and a half seasons. Bell has already played double the amount of the average running back.
Look, Bell is being paid a lot of money to play the game of football, but he understands that his career could be cut short at any point and time. He knows this because he has personally been derailed with injuries throughout his career, as we have seen.
It is now week eight and if Bell doesn’t report for work this week, it won’t be a surprise. He is standing up for what he believes is best for him.
I agree with him 100 percent. He deserves a payday, and if Pittsburgh isn’t going to give it to him, somebody else will.
Running back is an important position in the NFL, and Bell is in the prime of his career. One might wonder how many good years he has left, which is why this hold out comes at a strategic time in his career.
One thing to keep in mind is that according to NFL.com‘s Jeremy Bergman, Bell must come back by week 10, or else his contract carries into next season.
So as we wait for his return, make sure you remember that Le’veon Bell is correct in this situation because he has earned every dollar of his upcoming contract. With the regular season about halfway over, the question for Bell is “will he continue to be greedy?”or “will he swallow his pride?”
Bell has made his point clear, but I believe he will eventually return to the football field rather soon. In fact, he will back for week 10. Mark my words.