The Pittsburgh Steelers had some difficult decisions to make in the 2017 NFL offseason. The Steelers decided to go ahead and lock up All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the richest contracts for any wide receiver in NFL history. However, that meant that the Steelers couldn’t do the same right now for All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Instead, the Steelers chose to slap the franchise tag on Bell and worry about his contract later. With that decision, Le’Veon is now holding out of training camp and things need to change if the Steelers want to win in 2017.

Bell's Steelers contract situation

The fact of the matter is that Le’Veon Bell is important to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The entire thought behind the Antonio Brown contract was to lock him up long-term now and then lock up Bell next season, or possibly working on something closer to training camp. That was never finished and now Bell is holding out as training camp is starting. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is very much a player’s coach but even he has spoken out against the holdout and said that there will be consequences of some kind.

However, what is important to understand is that Le’Veon Bell has not signed the franchise tender, which would pay him $12.12 million this season but would not guarantee him of anything past this year.

With the possibility of injuries to players, especially to running backs in the NFL, and the short careers compared to other positions, Bell might not want to risk a future contract by playing under a one-year deal.

Steelers’ reactions to Bell holdout

As mentioned before, Mike Tomlin chose to talk about how Le’Veon Bell holding out hurts the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

Other members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have spoken about it, with center Maurkice Pouncey joking that he wished Bell would come back so reporters would quit asking him questions about it. According to ESPN, there are some teammates who completely support Le’Veon’s decision but others who think he should be with them at training camp as a “good faith” measure.

Antonio Brown, who got the huge contract already this offseason, has made it clear that Le’Veon Bell should be there because the Pittsburgh Steelers need everyone on hand to get ready for the season. If the Steelers want to beat out the New England Patriots for a Super Bowl appearance this season, they don’t need any distractions. ESPN also reported that many in Pittsburgh’s organization feel that Bell can compete for the MVP award this year but he needs to be ready.