Le'Veon Bell, Steelers running back, Steelers, NFL free agency

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Fillipponi: Let Me Spend Le'Veon Bell's Money

How the Steelers should use Bell's franchise Tag

Andrew Fillipponi
March 12, 2018 - 3:46 pm

The Steelers shouldn’t give into Le’Veon Bell’s absurd demands. He’s not worth 14.5 million dollars. The franchise tag he’ll play on, when he decides to get out of the rap studio and sign it, will pay him 43% more than the 2nd highest paid running back (DeVonta Freeman). That’s way too much for a player that didn’t even bother to show up to practice the day before a playoff game. Not to mention, he’s one missed drug test away from missing the bulk of the 2018 season.

Bell ranked 34th among running backs in long runs and 25th in yards per carry. He was 1st in attempts and touches. His big production was based on his heavy workload.

What’s the point in overpaying for one running back? It’s not a one man job. During their Super Bowl run, the Eagles paid LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement a combined 2 million dollars. Philadelphia was 3rd in team rushing yards. The Steelers were 20th.

Bell is not a good investment. Too much mileage. Too much baggage. Too much BS. Let Bell walk.

Here’s how I would reallocate the Bell’s dollars…

Welcome back Lawrence Timmons. The Steelers need to get organized. In the playoff loss to Jacksonville, there were too many plays in which the Steelers weren’t set and out of position before the ball was even snapped. Timmons can take over defensive play calling. He’s lost a step, but he still has good instincts. He’s an intelligent player. The Steelers need more of those. They too often beat themselves. Timmons can get beat in coverage, but he’s a sure tackler. Projected Deal: 2 years, 6 million.

Hello Navorro Bowman. The former Penn St product is fully recovered from an Achilles injury suffered in 2016. After getting traded to Oakland, the Raiders run defense went from 23rd to 8th. Pro Football Focus rated him as the 7th best run-stuffing linebacker in the NFL. In the two losses to Jacksonville, the Jaguars rushed for 395 yards. Between Bowman, Timmons, Vince Williams, and an early draft pick, the Steelers would be able to offset the loss of Ryan Shazier. Projected Deal: 2 years, 10 million.

Hail to Dion Lewis. The ex-Patriot averaged 5 yards per carry. Bell averaged 4. Lewis was a more efficient runner. He can block, help out in special teams, and catch the ball out of the back field. He can play in any situation, 3rd down back, goal line and short yardage. Lewis would share running back responsibilities with James Conner and a rookie back. USA Today ranked running back as the most talented offensive position group in the draft. It’s possible the Steelers find a starter in the 3rd or 4th round. Projected Deal: 3 years, 14 million.

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The Steelers should allow Bell’s agent to find a long-term deal with another team. For instance, Bell could talk to Washington, come to some agreement on length, term, guaranteed money, sign the Steelers franchise tag, and get traded for the Redskins’ 2nd round pick (44th overall). Short of that happening, let the guy walk. Go shopping for reinforcements at bigger positions of need. I don’t want a 14.5 million dollar headache. Do you?