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Tim Benz: Le’Veon Bell can blame only himself for contract with Jets coming up short | TribLIVE.com
Tim Benz, Columnist

Tim Benz: Le’Veon Bell can blame only himself for contract with Jets coming up short

Tim Benz
| Wednesday, March 13, 2019 6:02 a.m.
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AP
Former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell agreed to a four-year contract with the Jets.

Le’Veon Bell agreed to a contract with the New York Jets that’ll reportedly pay him somewhere between $52 million and $61 million over four years.

The last reported offer he had to stay in Pittsburgh was $70 million over five years.

Most outlets indicate that $35 million of the Jets money is guaranteed.

Todd Gurley got $45 million last year. And the Steelers were planning to pay Bell $33 million over the first two years of a deal he was offered before they exercised the franchise tag prior to last season.

So the numbers are slightly better on paper until you realize that he also left $14.54 million on the table by refusing to play on the tag last year.

Bummer. Based on how Bell handled himself, I really feel sorry for him. It’s going to be hard to spin another braggadocious rap album about that.

In fact, he might be asking for those cleats his former Steelers teammates took from his locker.


This is Bell’s fault — and his agent Adisa Bakari’s — for over-estimating the market and looking a gift horse in the mouth. But since the national media seem to be intent on shifting blame away from Bell and Antonio Brown whenever possible, another reason for Bell’s seemingly soft market has popped up.

Collusion.

OK. Not “collusion” specifically, in name alone. But that was the implication here from Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman prior to the announcement of Bell’s signing.

There you have it. Team owners undercut Bell because they are mad at him for spurning the Steelers last year.

I’ll give you a moment to clean the coffee off your keyboard after your spit-take.

Let me support Freeman on one point. I bet the owners are ticked at that tactic from Bell and Bakari.

But it’s farcical to intimate that there is honor among thieves regarding NFL owners keeping Bell off of their rosters at his desired price.

Some in baseball circles were suggesting the same thing about Manny Machado and Bryce Harper … until they agreed to combined contracts of $630 million.

What’s even more ludicrous is that Freeman is advancing this notion just four days after Antonio Brown forced his way out of an existing contract in Pittsburgh.

I’d argue Brown’s actions and behavior were far worse than Bell’s. Yet Brown had one team, Buffalo, try to trade for him at first. Then, a second team, Oakland, agreed to trade for him and gave him $30 million in guaranteed cash.

Why wouldn’t owners shun Brown even more so than Bell if they are angry about players taking advantage of cracks within the collective bargaining agreement?

Meanwhile, back in reality, let’s investigate those other “many factors” Freeman alluded to in his tweet.

I assume he meant things such as Bell’s injury history, suspensions for marijuana use, year-long absence, maverick agent, diversified interests, weight concerns, lack of breakaway speed and ill-advised social-media activity.

He also could be referencing how Gurley, a younger back with potentially even more upside, ended up hurt and splitting carries down the stretch of the Rams’ NFC Championship season.

I think all those reasons are why Bell got $10 million less in guarantees than Gurley did, without concocting some league-wide agenda against him.

Bell has no one to blame but himself for failing to get the mega-haul he wanted.

OK. I take that back. Bell should blame Bakari, too.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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