For $52 mil, four years, Bell prepares to bring the trophy to his new home

Vincent Davis | 8/1/2019, 11:56 a.m.
Last year this time, Le'Veon Bell’s holdout was the lead news story the way Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys, ...

Last year this time, Le'Veon Bell’s holdout was the lead news story the way Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys, Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers, both running backs, and Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints, a receiver, lead the conversation now.

Bell had refused to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp until his contract with them was renegotiated.

His initial contract, a rookie deal signed in 2013, paid him a million per year for the first four seasons. It was expiring at the end of the 2015-2016 season.

He received a $12.1 million “franchise tag” contract for the 2017 season, but couldn’t come to terms with the Steelers to start the 2018 season, sitting out the football year because he couldn’t get a long-term commitment.

Pittsburgh’s solution was to franchise Bell again, an offer based on the average of the top salaries at his position, this time, a $14.5 million payment which Bell rejected.

Bell, drafted in the second round, the 48th pick, became an elite back during his time with the Steelers, but that’s become a devalued position in the NFL. Bell was also Pittsburgh’s second best receiver, and has an uncanny ability to elude defenders, adding additional yards to his receptions. He logged 1,291 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Bell demanded a multiple year contract from them with guaranteed money.

Unlike Thomas and the Saints who signed him yesterday for a reported record-setting $100 million for five years, 61 guaranteed, the most that will be paid to a player who’s not a quarterback, neither side ceded. Bell, 27, 6-foot-1, 260 pounds, sat out, and is now a New York Jet, No. 26 who’ll be in the backfield behind second year quarterback Sam Darnold. They’re feeling their way through their first training camp together, now preparing for the upcoming season.

With a secured four year $52.5 million, 35 mil guaranteed contract with incentives, Bell can concentrate on getting back into football shape, trying to avoid cramping and injury, learning plays, working on routes and communication between him and Darnold.

“He has a lot of NFL experience, and I’m just trying to pick his brain,” said the Jet QB, appreciative and respectful of the experience that Bell provides. “Anytime we get that back and forth, it’s good for us.”

But with all of Bell’s new responsibilities, he found contrition for Fantasy Football fans who’d chosen him last season for their teams.

Bell apologized for his contract issues which affected their fantasy teams. In a statement, he tweeted that “this season would be wayyyy different.”

“This is long overdue, but I want to take a moment to apologize to all the fantasy owners who picked me last year, I’m sorry I couldn’t pull through for y’all, but trust me, this year’s about to be way different, I’m bringing the trophy this year,” he tweeted.