Le’Veon Bell is one of the best running backs in the NFL. His patience, vision, uncanny size and strength make him a threat in so many ways. His stats may not be as gaudy as some, but he’s ranked among the best in production year after year. As a rookie, Bell signed a four year, four million dollar deal. After proving himself over and over again, the Steelers decided to use their franchise tag on him.
Why Le’Veon Bell Deserves a Long-Term Contract
All Money Ain’t Good Money
At first glance, 12 million dollars for the year sounds great. However, football isn’t a sport where one can confidently “bet on himself”. The NFL is a dangerous and uncertain place, one ACL tear or high ankle sprain and a player could simply be cut and left with few options.
For example, if Bell was injured during the game against the Jags last week, the Steelers would be able to cut him with no guaranteed money. Yes, this is extreme, but Ryan Shazier had a career-altering injury recently, and without a long-term deal, he would be left with little in guaranteed money. That would mean that for all the good he’s done, Bell would have made 16 million dollars in five seasons in the NFL.
A Violent Existence
It’s no secret that running backs take a beating throughout their careers. Think about it, top-tier backs average over 300 touches a season and get hit a minimum of once per play. Because of the violent nature of the position, an average career for a running back is only five years.
Bell has been durable, in fact, he’s only missed significant time due to injury once. This was when one of the dirtiest players in the league, Vontaze Burfict, crushed his leg and forced him to miss the bulk of the 2015 season.
Bell has had off the field issues as well, and that’s no secret. However, he has passed all his recent drug tests. While this is a risk, it is worth the reward. Bell has seemingly grown up and has put his past behind him. The Steelers would be wise to pay Bell whatever amount he wants, and if that means getting rid of Ben Roethlisberger, so be it.