Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has agreed to a deal with the New York Jets, according to The Associated Press and others. But if you look back at how he got here, you can see that a series of missteps ultimately cost him a lot of money.
Bell played a game of chicken with the Steelers last year and it did not go well — for him or the Steelers.
The three-time Pro Bowler wound up not only missing out on the $14.5 million he would have gotten if he didn’t sit out the 2018 season, but now, as he prepares to sign a deal with the Jets, he is taking less money than the Steelers reportedly offered him.
Consider the Jets deal, which he is expected to sign Wednesday afternoon when the free agency period officially begins.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a four-year, $52.5 million deal that includes $35 million guaranteed for the 27-year old, who many considered to be the best running back in football — before he sat out last season.
Including incentives, the Jets deal has a maximum value of close to $61 million, ESPN reported.
Without the incentives, it comes down to about $13.1 million per year. (With the incentives, it’s about $15 million per year. But we don’t know what the incentives are, and, as we’ve seen with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, even great players don’t always meet those incentives.)
That $13.1 million is less than what Bell rejected from the Steelers in both 2017 and 2018, according to 247 Sports.
In 2017, Bell reportedly was offered a long-term deal that would have paid him $13.3 million per season. A deal was not reached, and Bell wound up being franchised for $12.1 million.
In 2018, the Steelers reportedly offered the running back a five-year, $70 million deal that included $33 million guaranteed. That would have paid him about $14 million per year.
So Pittsburgh put the franchise tag on him again, which would have paid him $14.5 million — if he showed up.
As we all know, Bell sat out the entire year and never got the $14.5 million.
it’s been a long strange trip to New York for Bell, who, by the way, also dropped a new rap album Wednesday called “Life’s a Gamble.”
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) March 12, 2019
Bell definitely took a gamble that he’d get more than the Steelers offered, and it looks like — unless he earns those incentives — he lost.
He’s also going to a 4-12 Jets team, but it’s safe to say they will be much improved in 2019 under new coach Adam Gase with Bell joining second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. They might even be better than the Steelers, who lost their two best players.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.