One of the bigger off-season storylines around the NFL is the impending contract standoff between Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s recently been reported that the Steelers won’t begin contract negotiations with their star running back until they use the franchise tag to secure him. This could potentially trigger a high-stakes game of chicken due to the fact that Bell has already made it clear he’s not playing out the 2018 season on the tag. He’s also made it clear he wants to set the market for NFL running backs, and we already know he believes he’s worth a ton of money.
Not surprisingly, all this talk of mad cash has other high-profile running backs feeling some feelings. Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley are both pumped about Bell setting the market. Obviously they both stand to gain quite a bit if he does garner a monster contract that’s above and beyond what running backs have been worth to teams recently.
“I told him I can’t wait till you get your contract, because I’m going to be right behind you,” Kamara said, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “He was like, ‘You have to get what you deserve, what you’re worth.’ With him being able to do that, for him being the guinea pig, I guess, get all his money and get all his worth, I think it’s going to bring the position back.”
Bell has reportedly divulged his secret plan to Gurley and LeSean McCoy and says they “kind of root for me” now. “There are a lot of things that we do. I just feel we should be a little more appreciated,” he said.
Gurley — fantasy football demigod in 2017 — talked about how running backs have such short shelf lives in the NFL and need to get what they can, when they can.
“He’s going to set it. Everything else will go from there. [The market] is changing, brother. We’re back.
“The game has evolved,” Gurley said. “You look at guys like Le’Veon. Back in the day, we used to be more run-run-run. Now it’s kind of pass, and we want to get in on the fun, too.”
Obviously, there are only a handful of running backs who would qualify for the market Bell will likely set. Guys like David Johnson, Gurley and Kamara. The question for NFL teams then becomes, “Can we afford to pay a running back like a quarterback, or can we just continue drafting young guys who come at a bargain rate?”
It’s a very intriguing question. Because running backs do have such a short shelf life, paying them top dollar is something many teams just aren’t keen on doing.