As the high-profile holdout of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell continues, more reports are surfacing about past Pittsburgh offers that the two-time All-Pro has apparently turned down.
The three-time 1,000-yard rusher nixed an offer from the Steelers with the team pledging $47 million to Bell over three years, Pro Football Talk reported Friday.
An NFL source told PFT that the package had the potential to guarantee Bell $20 million — a $10 million signing bonus plus another $10 million bonus soon after the agreement.
Over the summer, the Steelers reportedly offered Bell a five-year, $70 million contract, but Bell supposedly balked because only $17 million was guaranteed. Big-name running backs Todd Gurley (Rams) and David Johnson (Cardinals), who signed new contracts, received at least double that amount guaranteed.
“I know the guaranteed money will be there (in March),” Bell said. “If a team wanted to, they could definitely do what they needed to do to make me happy and satisfied.”
Earlier this week a source told ESPN that Bell would return before Week 8 and likely during the team’s bye Week 7.
Bell also spoke with ESPN on Monday, saying, “It sucks having to sit out football. I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs. But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday that he knew of no plans for when the three-time Pro Bowl back would end his contract protest.
“I have not talked to Le’Veon and I really have no Le’Veon update,” Tomlin said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Nothing has changed from my perspective in that regard.”
Adisa Bakari, Bell’s agent, has openly worried that the Steelers, not expecting to be able to keep Bell beyond this season, would overuse him while they had him this season. Bell led the NFL with 321 rushes and 406 touches a season ago.
Bell, who has 5,336 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns plus 2,660 receiving yards and seven scores in 62 games, all as the starter, at one point said he would join the team in time for the season opener. However, a Week 7 return still would get him enough service time to reach free agency in 2019.
—Field Level Media