Le’Veon Bell isn’t going to stay with the Steelers for the long haul, but he understands he needs to play for Pittsburgh this year.
The Steelers have made it clear to other NFL teams that they’re willing to trade Le’Veon Bell. The talented running back has taken notice. That’s why he’s leaking reports that indicate he’s going to return to Pittsburgh in the next couple of weeks.
Simply put, Bell is trying to do what’s best for his career. His clear objective is to earn the most lucrative contract possible this summer. That isn’t going to come from the Steelers, but it’s still in Bell’s best interest to help them win some games down the stretch.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport claims that Bell’s camp is making it clear they don’t want a trade away from Pittsburgh this season. Bell’s rationale is pretty clear here. He is already intimately familiar with the Steelers offense. If he’s going to come back and play football this season, it makes the most sense for him to return to the team where he can contribute with the shortest learning curve.
If Pittsburgh were to move him to a different team, it might take him time to get up and running. The Steelers run a very different offense compared to most of their peers around the NFL. It also happens to be a system that’s tailor-made to showcase Bell’s talents.
The only thing that may change Bell’s mind is if another team makes it clear they’re willing commit to handing him a big money deal this offseason no matter what he does on the field in 2018. No team can officially sign him to a big contract during the season, but back channels could be utilized to communicate the potential contract terms to Bell and his camp. That’s the only way Bell should push for a trade this year.
The most likely outcome for Bell this year is that he will return to the Steelers in the next couple of weeks and regain his place as their starting running back down the stretch. It’s really what’s best for everyone involved. Bell can help Pittsburgh climb back into playoff contention and the team can help Bell reestablish his value for the rest of the league. It’s a classic win-win.
Expect the Steelers to continue to use the threat of trading Bell as a tool to try to get him on the field sooner, rather than later. It’s really the only piece of leverage the team has left. It’s still mostly a hollow threat. Bell returning to the Steelers this year is more a question of when than if.