It's "Now-Or-Never" For Steelers

With Le'Veon Bell likely gone in 2019, Pittsburgh's window is closing, Steelers writer Ray Fittipaldo said

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
July 17, 2018 - 9:07 am

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In 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round. Since then, he has been one of the best players – and perhaps the best running back – in the NFL.

Well, this could be his final season in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers were unable to reach a long-term contract with the All-Pro running back ahead of the franchise-tag deadline Monday.

“I think this is the first real sign that this is, indeed, the final season with Le’Veon Bell with the Steelers,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers reporter Ray Fittipaldo said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They could put the transition tag on him in 2019, but they would have to pay him $17.5 million and there would be no draft-pick compensation if he were to leave after that. I think this is looking like his last season, and the window for the Steelers could be closing.”

The Steelers have won 10+ games in four straight seasons and last year went 13-3 – their best finish since Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season in 2004 (15-1).

Well, Ben ain’t a rookie no more.

“Ben Roethlisberger is 36 years old,” Fittipaldo said. “Antonio Brown just turned 30, and Le’Veon Bell is likely playing his final season with the team. I think it’s now-or-never with the Steelers in 2018. They’ve been close the last couple of years; they just haven’t been able to get it done. With (Monday’s) news, I think the pressure will be on even more this fall once they get going with the regular season.”

The Steelers said they will try to sign Bell after the season, but Fittipaldo doesn’t think they’ll get a deal done.

“They’ve been trying since the end of the 2016 season,” he said. “It’s more than 500 days now that they’ve tried to hammer out a deal, and they just haven’t been able to get one done. The Steelers sweetened their offer this year more than they had on the table last year. The Steelers are willing to really reset the running back market as Le’Veon Bell wants them to do; it’s just that Le’Veon Bell seems intent on making more than $15 million a year. And the Steelers, to this point, haven’t been willing to go that far. I never got the sense that they were all that close.”