Billick: Holdouts Don't Do Any Good

Several Steelers are publicly criticizing Le'Veon Bell for holding out

September 06, 2018 - 8:19 am

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Holdouts are not uncommon in the NFL. In fact, they’re an annual tradition. But one thing that is uncommon? Teammates publicly criticizing players holding out.

That is reality for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.

“That is rare,” NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Very rarely do you see (that). Players will band together when it comes to the business side. (They think), ‘Hey, that might be me one day.’ You very rarely are going to get between a player, his contract negotiations and a team.”

This situation, however, is different.

“I think there’s some frustration,” Billick said. “They recognize they’re going to be a pretty good football team and they want to be at full strength. They honor the fact and recognize, ‘Yeah, look, you have the right to get the best contract you can. We all want to do that and take care of our families’ – all the typical things you hear from players. But it gets to a point where now the season is beginning and you need all hands on deck. This is going to affect me now as a player. You're going to affect my livelihood now – because we’re not going to be as good.”

The Steelers have won the AFC North three of the last four seasons and were a safe bet to make it four out of five. That will be infinitely harder without Bell, who has 3,830 yards and 20 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

“The sad thing is – and I’m not being critical of the players wanting to get the best contracts and doing everything they can to try to do that – but at the end of the day, these holdouts really don’t do any good,” Billick said. “You’re either going to get a contract or you won’t. It’s going to come to terms or you don’t. You can look at the Khalil Mack situation and you can bring about a trade. I don’t know that the holdout is necessarily going to force that to happen. Oakland made a calculation: We’re not going to pay this guy this kind of money. Right or wrong, he could have a huge year in Chicago, but they’re making the decision that we are not going to give up that percentage of our cap to a player at that position. That’s just a calculation. But Le’Veon Bell is the best running back in the game. I hate to see him not on the field.”

The Steelers open the season this Sunday in Cleveland. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.