The Facts: When Bell failed to reach agreement on a new contract with Pittsburgh early this week, he emphasized that he's "worth more" than the Steelers were offering. Just how much more? Ike Taylor, a former teammate of Bell, reported on Wednesday's edition of NFL Total Access that the All-Pro playmaker wants to be compensated not only as a top running back but also as a No. 2 receiver.
As NFL.com's Chris Wesseling suggests, it's understandable that one-dimensional power backs have been devalued in the NFL's heaviest passing era, but Bell and Arizona's David Johnson raise an interesting conundrum as dual-threat superstars. How valuable was Bell in 2016? As Pittsburgh's top back and second-leading receiver (75 catches), he became the first player in NFL history to average at least 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards per game over the course of a season. He led the league in both touches (28.0) and yards from scrimmage (157.0) per game, unseating franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the focal point of the offense during the Steelers' nine-game winning streak down the stretch. Already the league's highest-paid tailback under the $12.1 million franchise-tag figure, Bell is seeking a higher annual salary in addition to guaranteed money that goes beyond Pittsburgh's general policy of a one-year limit. "Le'Veon has the power right now with that $12 million," Taylor offered, explaining Bell's thought process. "For only one position. And when you add more value to that running back, just give me $3 [million] more. Put it at $15 [million]. Give me three [million] more." He didn't get that this year. Will he next year? And of greater interest, will he show up for training camp? Stay tuned for that.