2017 NFL Free Agency: Le’Veon Bell Contract Projection

Le’Veon Bell | Pittsburgh Steelers | 2017 NFL Free Agency

HT: 6-1 WT: 225 Age: 25 Seasons: 4
Status: UFA

**UPDATE: The Pittsburgh Steelers placed the Exclusive franchise tag on Bell.**

Pittsburgh Steelers Salary Cap Space (Top 51): $36.63M
RB Franchise Tag: $12.12M (Joel Corry)

Le’Veon Bell Scouting Report

Positives
The most diverse running back in the NFL. Three-down skill-set. Size-Speed-Strength. Elite vision. Highly productive. Averages 128.7 total yards per game for career. Best receiving back in the NFL (227 receptions, 2,005 yards and 5 TDs). Runs routes like a WR.

Negatives
Has a history of injuries and suspensions. Has missed 17 of 64 regular season games (injury-10; suspension-6; rest-1) and three of six career playoff games. RB position has been devalued on the market throughout the years.

Le’Veon Bell Statistics

  • Best season: 336 touches, 1,884 yards, 9 TD (12 games)
  • 2-year average before deal (AVG): 14 games, 354.5 touches, 2,049.5 yards, 10 TD (2014 & 2016)

Le’Veon Bell Player Comparables

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

  • Contract: 3 year, $42M; $14M average (AVG), $20M Guaranteed (GTD), $13M Fully Guaranteed (FG) (2015)
  • 2-year AVG: 348 touches, 1,875.5 yards, 12 TD
  • 2017 salary cap adjustment (CAP): 3 years, $49.25M; $23.5M GTD, $15.2M FG

DeMarco Murray, (Philadelphia Eagles contract)

  • Contract: 5 years, $42M; $8.4M AVG, $21M GTD, $18M FG (2015)
  • 2-year AVG: 359.5 touches, 1,866 yards, 11.5 TD
  • 2017 CAP: 5 years, $49.25M; $24.63M GTD, $21.12M FG

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

  • Contract: 5 years, $40.05M; $8.01M AVG, $20.55M GTD, $18.25M FG (2015)
  • 2-year AVG: 353 touches, 1,810 yards, 8 TD
  • 2017 CAP: 5 years, $46.96M; $21.2M FG

Le’Veon Bell Leverage

Murray was a UFA who hit the market after winning the 2014 rushing title. McCoy had just been traded from the Eagles. Pittsburgh holds all the leverage over Bell due to the Tag. Bell is also, arguably, the best back in the NFL, and he affects the game in all three phases more than any running back in the NFL.

Best Alternative to Long-Term Agreement

Pittsburgh Steelers – Use the franchise tag on Bell.
Le’Veon Bell – Don’t sign and sit out the team’s first ten games.

Le’Veon Bell Reservation Price

Anything less than either setting the RB market is unacceptable. If the Vikings keep Peterson, this overall projection will increase. However, the assumption is that they will not (or at least not at his current salary).

Projection: 5 years, $50.5M; $10.1M AVG, $20M FG (signing bonus)

Contract Structure
Signing Bonus – $20M
2017 – $1M base
2018 – $2M base + $2M roster bonus due fifth day of 2018 league year.
2019 – $7.5M base
2020 – $8.5M base
2021 – $9M base

*Contract information from Over The Cap, Spotrac, Pro Football Talk, and/or other sources.
*Statistics from NFL.com
**Contract structures are based on 2016 team’s tendencies.

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