Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t reported to the Pittsburgh Steelers this preseason, and he’s certainly not becoming any less of a distraction.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that Bell and the Steelers had agreed to a five-year contract worth more than $12 million annually before the NFL’s July 17 deadline for players to sign extensions, but that Bell “nixed the contract” at the last minute. That meant Pittsburgh would use the one-year franchise tag on the Pro Bowl running back, whose holdout has continued into the second week of the preseason.
Bell’s agent tells a different story, however. Adisa Bakari told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that his client never had any had any agreement with the Steelers this summer.
Bell would make $12.1 million under the franchise tag this season if he signs his franchise tender, which still would be the highest annual salary of any NFL running back. But the 25-year-old wants to earn $15 million per year, according to the Post-Gazzette, which noted Bell hinted at that desire last year in a rap song he recorded called “Focus.”
“I’m at the top, and if not, I’m the closest,” Bell rapped, per the Gazzette. “I’ma need 15 a year and they know this.”
Bell is one of the top offensive weapons in the game when healthy; he led the AFC with 105.7 rushing yards per game last season and arguably is the league’s best receiving threat out of the backfield, tallying 75 receptions for 616 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. But the two-time Pro Bowler also has had trouble staying on the field, missing 10 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and suspensions.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images