Since his rookie season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has shown he is one of the most complete backs in the league and a very important part of Pittsburgh’s offense.
What makes Bell stand out over most of his counterparts is the fact that he is not only a great runner, he is also a very good receiver and blocker, making him a rare commodity in the NFL.
In his rookie season, Bell rushed for 860 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also caught 45 passes for 399 yards. In his second season, Bell was even more impressive, finishing the season with 1,361 and 8 touchdowns. He also had 83 catches for 854 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Bell’s performance in 2014 earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors.
While Bell’s performance on the field was never questioned, some questioned his toughness after dealing with injuries that limited him to six games in 2015. In limited action that year, Bell still managed to rush for 556 yards and 3 touchdowns, while catching 24 passes for 136 yards.
Last season, Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In 12 games, he rushed for 1,268 yards and 7 touchdowns, while catching 75 passes for 616 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Bell has clearly proven he is one of the best at what he does, and was expected to be paid what he felt he was worth when he became a free agent.
When free agency began, the Steelers used their franchise tag on Bell, hoping to iron out a long-term deal in the coming weeks. As the deadline to sign franchised players to long-term contracts approached, both sides were at an impasse and Bell decided he would play on the $12.2 million franchise tag.
After the deadline passed, Bell told ESPN he was frustrated they couldn’t come to an agreement, but he also felt he wasn’t being offered what he was worth and wasn’t planning on signing a contract that wasn’t close to what he was expecting.
Bell added that the negotiations weren’t personal and the Steelers didn’t hold his injury history against him during negotiations.
Even though he isn’t happy the sides couldn’t reach an agreement before the deadline, he is optimistic they can come to an agreement during the offseason.