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Cory's Corner: Le'Veon Bell Has Hit His Ceiling

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Cory's Corner: Le'Veon Bell Has Hit His Ceiling

Le’Veon Bell has been a constant thorn in the Steelers’ financial side. 

And now he is up to his same old antics by threatening to sit out half the season to preserve his body for 2019 so that he can still get top dollar as a free agent.

The 26-year-old wants to be paid as a No. 1 running back and a No. 2 wide receiver. I get it because Bell is trying to be a trailblazer. Bell has played 90 percent of Pittsburgh’s snaps the last two seasons and that includes the 139 plays the Steelers asked him to pass block.

But there’s one problem with Bell’s philosophy: nobody is going to join him. Jimmy Graham tried and failed to be labeled as a wide receiver when he was being split out wide in New Orleans and Bell will not be labeled as a wide receiver even though he caught 94 balls last year.

What Bell has done is back the Steelers into a corner. He will play under a franchise tag for a second straight year after playing for $12.1 million in 2017 and he will play for $14.5 million in 2018. All of a sudden the Steelers have turned one franchise tag into a Kirk Cousins-sized mistake. There’s no way that the Steelers, or any other team, will want to pay him the estimated $20.88 million that will be due if Pittsburgh were to tag him a third time.

If anything, this should tell running backs what not to do. The position has been sitting in idle in terms of historical pay. That pales in comparison to quarterbacks, which have seen their salaries nearly triple since 2010.

Obviously that’s not to say that a team won’t open the checkbook for Bell. But he can forget about his dual role to make him financially stable. Because the NFL is now a passing league, wide receivers and tight ends made more as a position group than running backs.

Bell is a versatile superstar that can completely change the complexion of a game. He is Ben Roethlisberger’s safety valve both as a receiver and as a blocker.

But he just has to understand that he isn’t going to be paid for it on the field. Which means, that he and his agent just need to get creative. Maybe have a meeting with Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and discuss ways how Bell’s versatility powers the Steelers and juxtapose that with what Westinghouse does.

There’s still money to be made for Bell. He just needs to learn that he has hit his running back ceiling.


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (55) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor12's picture

Can you imagine the predicament the Packers would be in ' if ' Montgomery was actually had the RB ability many easily proclaimed while being drafted as a WR wearing a WR number.

Bearmeat's picture

Only problem with that Taryn is that Monty isn't a self centered A-Hole like Bell. Follow him on Twitter for a week. I dare you - yes, even you - to not change your mind about Bell vs. Monty.

Tarynfor12's picture

What you're saying is that Montgomery wouldn't be looking for the same huge payout because he's a Packer or you're personal first hand knowledge as to his character concerning money. Which had he not shown himself to be fragile and played to Bell's level wouldn't ask for same....please stop.

Bearmeat's picture

I think players should get fully guaranteed contracts and squeeze every penny they can out of their occupation while they have the skill. It's not a long career. But in this case, as Cory correctly states, Bell wants to become the highest paid non-QB in history. No RB is worth that, regardless of his skill set, in today's NFL. Bell refuses to see that production at his position just doesn't correlate to wins over time. He is proud and willfully blind. Which means that what I'm saying - that Bell is a self-centered AHole - is correct. Monty is not a self-centered A-Hole like Bell. So even if he did have Bell's production, he wouldn't be looking to become paid like a RB1 AND WR2. He is a realist.

So, as I said in their first reply that you (predictably) misconstrued, follow both of them on Twitter, maybe even watch some of their interviews. Then change your mind to the right opinion. :)

Jonathan Spader's picture

Don't you think Bell's success is a big part of why he comes across as a self centered whole as you put it? Who knows what TY would act like if he had the same success as Bell. You'd like to think he'd still be a nice guy but I guarantee you he'd want to get paid more. Who doesn't want to get paid what they think they're worth?

Bearmeat's picture

Of course Ty would want more. But I really don't think he'd say "imma need 17" and "I'm a RB1 and a WR2, so I should be paid like that.." when you add up those figures, you're talking about 20 mil per year. That is ridiculous for any offensive player who doesn't play QB.

Pass Rusher is the only other player worth even close to that much with the cap at it's current level: and he'd better be LT to get that! ;)

holmesmd's picture

No, you stop. What you say makes no sense.

The TKstinator's picture

Ty has more talent in his pinky than Bell does in his whole body...

The TKstinator's picture

...when it comes to playing the cello. My people have it on good authority that 88 really rocks it on the cello.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

Yo Yo Montgomery?

The TKstinator's picture

Yo Yo Mo.

Bearmeat's picture

Everyone say it with me: Top dollar RBs aren't worth it in the modern NFL. Top dollar RBs aren't worth it in the modern NFL. Top dollar RBs aren't worth it in the modern NFL.

Tarynfor12's picture

Every occupation has people demanding and getting more than what they deserve. It's not what you deserve but what you can get someone to pay you. The NFL is probably leading in paying more than is deserved to it's players and for good reason and it isn't the ability to play but to make max dollars via it's marketing.
The NFL media pundits exploited the QB position in one year with Ponder,Weeden, The Red Rifle and the other piles of excrement. while accepting bad players on the field and money in the seats and sales of all other items.

Bearmeat's picture

Which is why, if you are an owner, your job is to get the best product possible for the cheapest possible (and for some, honorable) amount you can get.

RBs aren't worth top dollar in the NFL compared to the way they alter the output of a team over time. So, if I'm Rooney, I'm telling Bell to shut up. Take his 12 mil, and try to get paid somewhere else after next year.

Bearmeat's picture

Sidenote: Every couple of months, I (seemingly inexplicably) decide to read some of your comments again. I don't know why. I always come away with the same opinion. You, Taryn, are the single most stubborn fan I've ever interacted with on the internet. It's amazing. So, I'm back to ignoring you. Have a nice day.

Tarynfor12's picture

Because no matter how you feel about my views...they invigorate you to be a more rabid fan because I don't simply roll over with passive acceptance of failed seasons, conjecture,utter bias and/or dwell in the land of " if only. "

Thanks for looking in again and see you next time when you just can't help yourself. : )

croatpackfan's picture

Tarynfor12 is the biggest troll ever!

Tarynfor12's picture

LOL...coming from someone who believes nobody should ever question anybody at any level of a coaching staff. Sit in the corner quiet. Why then would you care about what any of us have to say...we're not NFL coaches.

Bearmeat's picture

I don't think she's a troll. I think she is wrong about a lot of things and refuses to listen to anyone who has differing opinions. I have no time for the willfully blind.

Demon's picture

For someone who knws very little about football (real football not futbal) you sure seem to like tossing out insults to those of us who have played, coached and/or followed all levels of football for years. Calling me a bigot a few days ago was uncalled for!! Same with calling taryn12 "the biggest troll ever"
Just because you dont agree with my views or opinions doesn't mean I'm wrong. I will guarantee I know more about football than you will EVER know! Do you know who Gus Dorais was? Google it! Gus Dorais was my grandfather. He was the QB who used to throw to Knute Rockne at Notre Dame in the early 1900's. He also was a player for some now defunct NFL teams during the NFL's infancy and later coached the NFL Detroit Lions.
As a life long NFL fan and packers fan (sorry grandpa) in my early 60's, you with your little holier than thou attitude gets annoying. Ill bet that the closest you have ever come to a real pig skin is when you walked past one at the Croatian equivelent of Wal-Mart

WKUPackFan's picture

Nice job of doubling down on your bigotry with some xenophobia, well done.

Demon's picture

For someone who knws very little about football (real football not futbal) you sure seem to like tossing out insults to those of us who have played, coached and/or followed all levels of football for years. Calling me a bigot a few days ago was uncalled for!! Same with calling taryn12 "the biggest troll ever"
Just because you dont agree with my views or opinions doesn't mean I'm wrong. I will guarantee I know more about football than you will EVER know! Do you know who Gus Dorais was? Google it! Gus Dorais was my grandfather. He was the QB who used to throw to Knute Rockne at Notre Dame in the early 1900's. He also was a player for some now defunct NFL teams during the NFL's infancy and later coached the NFL Detroit Lions.
As a life long NFL fan and packers fan (sorry grandpa) in my early 60's, you with your little holier than thou attitude gets annoying. Ill bet that the closest you have ever come to a real pig skin is when you walked past one at the Croatian equivelent of Wal-Mart

Oppy's picture

I watched a neat little video that Norte Dame put together where they assembled some of the descendants of both Knute Rockne and your grandfather, Gus Dorais, on the sandy shores of Lake Erie to commemorate and re-enact Gus and Knute tossing the ball and perfectting the forward pass. (I'm assuming one of the people interviewed briefly was your sister, and there was a man who was not identified but looked to be in his mid 60's that I wondered if it was you.)

It was a really cool clip, and for that, I thank you. Your grandfather is indeed one of the pioneers of modern football. Without his contributions, we would not know the modern passing offense and may have never had QBs like Unitas, Marino, Elway, Favre, Rodgers, etc and so forth.

I also feel the need to comment that there's no need to discourage anyone who has a love for NFL football and is learning the game. While some of Croat's posts may rub you the wrong way (and I can't speak to the specific posts you mention- I apparently didn't see them), he loves the game and he has spent his time watching and trying to learn a game that is not played in his home country, and his knowledge has grown. It should be encouraged... and its natural as someone learns more about any given topic, they will begin to build confidence in their understand and even start to challenge others. It's part of the learning process.

Lastly, while I have no doubt you were raised around the game, the same video I watched also made it painfully clear that just because you have a football lineage, doesn't automatically make you a better football player, or even more versed in football, than someone who does not. Some horribly thrown balls and routes run by the descendants of football gods were caught on the commemorative film, lol. There are no end to the number of examples of a father or grandfather being amazing at his position or occupation or role, and a son or grandson who looks like "a chip off the old block" takes over, and the realization that just because they're blood and he was groomed to take over the work of the family, they aren't necessarily cut of the same cloth.

holmesmd's picture

I’ll answer that one: opinions are of variable quality, that’s why.

WKUPackFan's picture

What someone is willing to pay is what you are monetarily worth. "Deserve" is a subjective term that is not quantifiable in a salary situation.

Bert's picture

WKU you are correct!!!

Bearmeat's picture

Right, WKU.

You are "worth" what someone pays you, regardless of whether or not that pay is "intelligent."

What I'm saying is that, in my opinion, RB salaries already outpace their value to the team over a period of the life of most top 15 RB contracts. And 17 mil AAV for 5-7 years (which is what Bell wanted), is ludicrous and would kill his team in a hard salary cap league.

Since '61's picture

Actually what you are worth is based on the revenue that you can generate for your employer. In the NFL QBs put fans in the seats and in front of TVs in homes, bars, clubs, etc... WRs are next, then pass rushers and CBs and then maybe RBs. The problem for RBs is that they have very short careers and Bell is a rare talent for his position group.

The other problem for RBs is that they can be replaced more easily than a franchise QB. It will be much more difficult for the Steelers to replace Rothlisberger than it will be to replace Bell. Realistically, it is unlikely they will find another player like Bell but they can still take an RB by committee approach similar to GB and get the job done with a QB like Rothlisberger. Bell probably doesn't have 90 receptions if Rothlisberger is not throwing him the ball.

RBs take too many hits for teams to make big $$$ investments and long term commitments. The Steelers have no reason to give in to Bell's demands. For $17 mil the Steelers can build an entire position group rather than tie up all that cap space for one player whose skills will only diminish over the contract period. Thanks, Since '61

Tarynfor12's picture

Since 61'
Your ability to express what I say in a more polished way is astounding and
' deserve ' all the likes you get and I will gladly keep affording you the opportunity to do so via my crisp,curt and bemoaned manner of some. I welcome the the chance to set the stage for you.

Since '61's picture

Taryn - I appreciate your generous comments. I for one enjoy posts and I rarely respond directly to your posts because I usually have nothing to add.
I find your style refreshing and your references from non-football sources are mostly spot on. Sometimes I need to work at connecting the dots but that makes your posts all the more enjoyable. Keep doing what you do and don't change. You are an asset to this blog and by all means continue "you being you". Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Withdrawn. I see you addressed my question further in the thread.

Since '61's picture

WKU - respectfully I disagree. In a salary situation people are paid based on the revenue that they can generate for their employer. Having said that I realize that some people are over paid for subjective reasons but the reality is that if you are not generating revenue why are you being paid at all?

Note that I an speaking about private sector jobs. Obviously, we need to pay our police, fire, civil servants, administrators, etc... to provide the required public services. However even in that scenario without good public servants tax revenues would decline as people relocate to find better served communities so in a way even those roles are at least indirectly related to revenue (tax) generation.

So what you deserve to be paid, if taken objectively, is based on revenue that you can generate. It is the determining factor for employers in choosing who they hire and why. Subjective salaries lead to over budgeted organizations and a decrease in shareholders equity. Those organizations don't last very long in today's environment, unless it's the government, unfortunately. Thanks, Since '61

WKUPackFan's picture

'61 - I'm not sure that we disagree. I agree that salaries, for the most part, are or should be determined by revenue generated. I also with your remarks regarding the effects of subjective salaries. That is why I said the use of the word "deserve" is incorrect, in that deserve is, or implies, a subjective standard.

Regardless, however, if someone says "I'll pay '61 "x" amount higher than the revenue he generates" that is what your services are worth at that particular time.

My objection is to using word "deserve", especially in the context Taryn uses it. People like Taryn use the phrase "deserve to be paid" to denigrate the amounts athletes are paid. Taryn is pushing the tired argument of "the police, firefighters, and soldiers deserve to be paid more than these pampered athletes".

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah, I read both your and 61s comment. It seems to me you are saying very similar things in different ways.

Tarynfor12's picture

I did not say or infer Bell deserves to get paid what he's asking but he has every right to try and get all he can as is often mentioned by many here about other players. whether he deserves it is up to those who will pay him. There are many getting paid more than deserved and many who aren't. To say Bell doesn't because he's a RB is bs...he believes he deserves it, whether he does is another story, if by Pitt or another team.
Everyone at some time in the career feels they deserve more and many take more though knowing they deserve less.
But if an employer reaps more from less talented employee, he pay that employee for what he makes for the team. You can argue teams want the best product on the field but I bet that product is sacrificed for a better bottom line...reason why teams let players go and fans scratch their heads wondering why...bottom line than winning.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

I agree 100 percent. And I applaud Bell for trying the first time. But now I think it's getting a little old.

I don't see him making much more on the open market than what he's making this year.

Since '61's picture

WKU - thanks for taking the time to respond and clarify. I agree with your second paragraph completely. Taryn is more than capable to define her context for her posts so I will leave that for her. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

You had me at “via”!
And if it’s not that, then it’s “mantra”!

freddisch's picture

When is training camp starting again!

Tundraboy's picture

Yes. Meanwhile back to the Packers.

Lare's picture

So what on earth does Le'Veon Bell have to do with the Packers?

Nononsense's picture

Well someone just wrote an article that said GBs 3 RBs matched Bells efficiency from last year. Same yrds per touch with a few more TDs for GB but less total yrds.

Packers RBs
362 total touches into 1,734 total yards (4.79/touch) and 14 touchdowns last season.

406 touches into 1,946 total yards (4.79/touch) and 11 touchdowns.

The point is, would you rather have Bell and his enormous salary or draft a couple RBs every few years and hope to get the same kind of production with multiple cheaper RBs ?

I for one like having multiple options. I would rather spend that 14 million on 3 or more RBs than to take a chance and pay that much for one guy. No doubt he can do it all

Nononsense's picture

... but if he goes down, what are you left with?

Samson's picture

Talk about cherry picking.
Bell changes the way defenses play the Steeler offense.
Bell opens up the Steeler passing game.
Bell is extremely consistent with his production.

The Packers don't have an RB that can do any of the above.

It's simple football. --- Learn it.

Nononsense's picture

How many SBs have the Steelers won with Leveon Bell? You wanna talk simple football than look around the league. Many of the the latest SB participants and winners have multiple RBs who fill different roles not just 1 "Bell" cow RB that is being paid 12 or 14 million.

Now I'm not saying you are dumb I'm just saying you don't know what you are talking about.

4thand1's picture

8 days to TC.

Duneslick's picture

Thank God Then will find something to talk about with the packers and not talk about the steelers

Lare's picture

Amen to that. I'm guessing Le'Veon Bell never has, and never will wear a cheesehead in his lifetime.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

If Jabari Parker is worth 20 mil then I won't care about Leveon Bell getting the same.

Mike Wendlandt's picture

Bell isn't worth the money he wants, not just because of his ego, but his running style won't age well. As he gets older and loses a step, his stop-and-start style won't be effective. He might have a shorter shelf life than he realizes with that style.

LambeauPlain's picture

Part of the issue is the divergence between the NFL and college game.

College teams still run the ball assertively and pass opportunistically. The NFL...just the opposite.

So the supply of good college NFL RBs is abundant for NFL teams...the Pack for example fixed their RB problems with one draft with later round picks.

The supply of good college QBs is a challenge and teams overpay for untested rookies and unproven backups.

Bell is full of himself but he needs to fill up on the realities of today’s NFL game. He is on the wrong side of the pointy end.

dblbogey's picture

Trade him for Eddie Lacey. Lacey looks like a nose tackle now.

Samson's picture

The Steelers???
They're not even in the NFC.

Clearly, Bell is one of the top 5 or 6 players in the NFL today. (so is A. Brown)

The Pack would be devastating with an RB like Bell instead of all the 2nd stringers on their roster now.

Nick Perry's picture

Bell was offered a contract in the neighborhood of $70 million over 5 years with around $30 million the first two which would make me believe those first two years would be where the guaranteed money is in the deal.

Bell is the best RB in the NFL but IMO he's absolutely NUTS for not signing that deal. Bell WILL fall off a cliff. When exactly is anyone's guess but my guess would be around the 2020 season.

BTW... Did anyone see the contract Brandon Cooks just signed? 5 years $81 million with $50.5 million guaranteed...Get the F out of here!!! What must Julio Jones be thinking?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Cooks deserves more than Davante Adams. He has demonstrated better productivity, is more of a deep threat and has speed. But for the concussion issue, I'd bet that Adams has a longer career and will be productive for a longer period of time.

TT really overpaid for Adams. Some think TT foresaw the explosion in the WR pay, but I think TT set the market and caused the explosion. Pay by position is set by the dumbest GM, the most desperate GM, or the one sitting on a pile of cap space to whom price doesn't matter. Fuller isn't worth $14M to most teams, but Chicago had money to burn. McKinnon isn't worth $6M to most teams, but SF has tons of cap space.

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