Le’Veon Bell has yet to play a snap for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, losing $8.52 million while holding out over a contract dispute.
The star running back has until Nov. 13 to sign his franchise tender or he will forfeit his 2018 season. Bell reportedly turned down a five-year, $70 million contract from the Steelers in March, believing he is more valuable than the average star back and should be paid as such.
Pittsburgh (6-2-1) hasn’t really missed a beat without Bell, as second-year back James Conner has had a tremendous season, rushing for 915 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games.
Between the money Bell has lost and the emergence of Conner, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi thinks Bell’s holdout might be one of the worst decisions ever made.
“Is there a dumber holdout in all of frickin’ sports than Le’Veon Bell?” Lombardi said on The Ringer’s “GM Street” podcast. “I mean, seriously, could you have a dumber holdout? Seriously. What do you think you’re getting out of this? You’re just taking $7 million and putting it in the pit, right? You’re just throwing it in the ocean. Take the $7 million and give it your favorite charity, please. Here’s what you just did for the Steelers: you save them $7 million of cash and you allowed them to answer the question of who your replacement is. Now, how do you win in that situation? How do you win with that one?
“How’s he getting his $7 million back?” Lombardi asked host Tate Frazier. “How do you take $7 million and just treat it with no respect at all? I mean, like, how do you get the $7 million back? You don’t. Like it just doesn’t come back to you. Not only did you save the team that you’re pissed off at $7 million, they’re happy as shit, right? You’ve also allowed another guy to come in and play in your place and take your job from you. Because I’ll give you the news Tate Frazier, right now. Le’Veon Bell is never playing in (2018) for the Steelers. It ain’t happening.
“If I were Mike Tomlin, I don’t know if I would dress him for the rest of the year. I’d make him inactive. I’d say, ‘look, we don’t need your ass around here. You know? We don’t need you. I’m not giving you any job back. These guys have been here since July. You show up here in Week 10 to collect your money. You’re just all about the money. Why don’t you just stand over there and collect your money and we’ll figure this out.'”
Lombardi then noted that Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas also was unhappy with his contract, but he was smart enough to not throw away money.
“Look, nobody was more pissed off than Earl Thomas. Earl Thomas was pissed off. He had a contract. But Earl Thomas was smart enough to know, I gotta come get my checks. Like I’m not giving money away and being stupid. This is just plain stupid. Like, come in, get your $14 million. Get it all, put it in the bank, invest it. What are you getting out of this? Who’s advising this? ‘Oh, here’s our strategy: we’re going to hold out for 10 weeks and then they won’t franchise us next year, and then we’re going to go out and make $45 billion in free agency.’ Like, seriously?”
Honestly, we can’t find a flaw in Lombardi’s argument.
Will Bell report by Tuesday to collect what’s left of his 2018 salary? We shall see.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports
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