There is lots of discussion about whether the Pittsburgh Steelers offer to Le’Veon Bell was better than the contract he agreed to with the New York Jets. NFL contract numbers do not always paint the full picture since the guaranteed money varies from deal to deal. What we do know is the Steelers final offer was reported to be five-year, $70 million deal, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
“From what I understand, the #Steelers’ final offer to RB Le’Veon Bell was 5 years, $70M with more than $30M over 2 years. Last year, the offer was 5 years, $60M. … Instead, he’ll earn $14.5M on another franchise tag,” Rapoport tweeted.
On the surface, this is greater than the Jets four-year, $52.5 million deal which has the potential to jump up to $61 million guaranteed.
“Le’Veon Bell: 4 years, $52.5 million with the Jets, per source…Le’Veon Bell’s four-year deal with the New York Jets has a max value of $61 million and includes $35 million guaranteed, per source,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted.
The Steelers Final Offer Averaged $15 Million Per Year
Schefter reported in 2018 that the Steelers offer averaged $15 million per year.
“Just to clarify: Steelers’ offer to Le’Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers’ offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon,” Schefter noted on Twitter.
The floor for Bell’s contract with the Jets is $35 million guaranteed that could go up to $61 million. Rapoport noted that Bell’s guaranteed money in the Pittsburgh offer was tied to his signing bonus.
“Mentioned yesterday the #Steelers final offer to RB Le’Veon Bell was 5 years, $70M. More context today: The fully guaranteed part was his signing bonus of just over $10M. He would’ve made $33M over the 1st two years — in a rolling guaranteed structure. $45M over the 1st 3 years,” Rapoport tweeted.
Whether Bell Made the Best Financial Decision Depends on How Much Guaranteed Money the Running Back Earns From the Jets
The Steelers offer appeared to be greater, but whether it truly is a better deal depends on how much money Bell earns from the Jets. There is no guarantee that Bell would have earned the $70 million that was quoted from the Steelers final offer, just as there is no guarantee he will earn $61 million from the Jets.
Bell Tweeted in 2018 That $60 Million Would Not Be Enough to Join the Jets
Darren Rovell reported that Bell tweeted in 2018 that $60 million would not be enough for him to join the Jets. Bell has since deleted the tweet and the irony is that the number is eerily close to his new contract.
“In Feb. 2018, a Jets fan tweeted at Le’Veon Bell, saying the team would give $60M if he played for the green and white. Bell’s response? Not enough. Bell later deleted the tweet. Good idea. Because tonight he agreed to a deal with the Jets worth…$61 million,” Rovell tweeted.
Whether Bell’s deal with the Jets will be better than the Steelers offer is yet to be determined. When you factor in the $14.5 million salary Bell forfeited last season, it is almost assuredly a financial step backward in New York.
Bell’s camp would argue the year out will extend his career which will help him make up the lost money. Either way, Bell is not in danger of running out of money any time soon, but the running back does not appear to have received the blockbuster deal he was expecting in 2018.