After Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal by the 4 p.m. deadline on Monday, the star running back told ESPN that he was in no rush to sign a deal for less than what he believes he is worth.
“It’s a little frustrating, but it’s a business,” said Bell, who would not comment on the specifics of Pittsburgh’s offer or his own projection of his worth. “I’m not in a rush to sign for something I’m not valued at if I feel I’m worth more than what they are offering me.”
Bell was hopeful a deal would be agreed upon by yesterday’s deadline, but admitted the two sides were not particularly close. While disappointed, the 25-year old back confirmed that he will play on the one-year, $12.12 million franchise tag. However he did not say when he plans on signing the tender or reporting to camp, which is set to begin on July 27.
The running back said negotiations with Pittsburgh were not personal, and the team did not attempt to devalue him based on his health history (he has suffered multiple knee injuries, along with groin and hamstring ailments in his four NFL seasons). Despite being far apart on a deal, Bell remains optimistic that the two sides can reach an agreement on an extension after the season.
“I definitely don’t want to play for anybody else,” Bell said of the Steelers. “You never know what will happen. Today was a big eye opener. I’m going to definitely enjoy my best year with the Steelers and be happy with it.”
Bell has collected 4,791 total yards over the last three seasons, second among running backs, despite missing 13 games due to suspension or injury. He has the ability to line up in the backfield, out wide, or in the slot, and has been the Steelers’ second-most-productive receiver behind Antonio Brown when healthy. Bell’s teammates also voted him team MVP last season.
“The running back market definitely took a hit, and I can’t be the guy who continues to let it take a hit,” said Bell. “We do everything: We block, we run, we catch the ball. Our value isn’t where it needs to be. I’m taking it upon myself to open up some eyes and show the position is more valuable.”
Bell said he feels healthy after undergoing groin surgery back in March. The NFL’s most electric back believes he can post “crazy numbers” with a full 16 games this season, but understands he might face the same issues during the next round of negotiations.
“I want to be valued,” Bell said.