By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk
The heated drama between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell reached a boiling point this weekend when Bell skipped the team’s opening game against Cleveland. Bell appears content to sit out games while preserving his health for his future employer–whoever that may be next season. Trying to figure out if Bell will even play this year is anybody’s guess. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate.
Riley: He sits out for the rest of the season. It’s not about the money this year for Bell, it’s about guaranteed money in the future and critics are missing that. He has until week 10 to come in and sign his one-year tender to have this season accrue towards his free agency next year but even if that happens I think the Steelers would deactivate him and roll with what they have. If the brass feels like Bell has embarrassed the franchise then he won’t play for the Steelers or any team this year.
Green: Bell is way too talented to not play again this year, and the Steelers wouldn’t stroke a check for $14 million just for a guy to sit out. Bell will either return to the Steelers and play, get traded or have his tender rescinded, leaving him as a sign as a free agent with another team. He’s put the Steelers in such a corner that some type of resolution needs to happen soon.
Riley: The Steelers front office isn’t going to budge off hard contract disputes. There is no pressure to get Bell in because: 1) They have a backup running back in James Conner, who is extremely talented; and 2) For each game Bell misses that’s additional money added back to the Steelers’ salary cap. The team isn’t going to do Bell any favors. If he wants to play this season then he’ll play in Pittsburgh.
Green: The ultimate slave master mentality. When a player wants to exercise his rights it’s always a catastrophe. But just like an auction, somebody will bid big money on Bell to have him play this season. If a team offers the Steelers a lucrative trade offer, they may very well bite and send Bell packing. Why not? I don’t think the team is out to hold Bell in town against his will for the rest of the season so if a resolution can be made then I think both parties will try for that first.