Free Agency: How the Steelers can keep both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown
The Pittsburgh Steelers, as with every other NFL team, have some decisions to make this offseason.
After a successful 2016 season and trip to the AFC Championship Game the Steelers are now focused on next year. The Black and Gold have a bevy of unrestricted free agents including Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, and Le’Veon Bell.
The most significant UFA is Le’Veon Bell. Bell is coming off another tremendous season in which he posted 1,268 yards on the ground and added 616 through the air. These are big-time numbers considering he only played in 12 games.
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The Steelers will have to decide if they want to use the franchise tag on Bell. They have the option, of course, to sign him long-term. The Steelers may want to think about applying the franchise tag and see how the upcoming season plays out.
Though, Bell is a dynamic back and arguably the best in the game, he has yet to play a full season. The 2017 season may be used as a proving ground as to whether or not Bell can behaving himself off the field. His playmaking ability can’t be denied but the Michigan State product must prove he can be trusted.
A year away from free agency is Antonio Brown. Brown has had 4 stellar seasons in a row and is about to get paid the big bucks. Brown has one more year on his deal and he wants to get a new contract worked out before the start of training camp. The star receiver is said to be unhappy about his current deal and if something doesn’t get done soon, he may hold out.
Brown and Bell are going to get paid handsomely by another NFL team if Pittsburgh can’t work out deals with the two superstars. Is it possible for them to even afford both players? Generally, the team needs to restructure a number of contracts in order to keep the players they want.
However, this offseason Pittsburgh will have about $35 million to work with under the cap. It is possible the Steelers will offer big contracts to both.
Whether or not the Steelers decide to sign both this offseason remains to be seen. Brown and the Steelers are in talks now to extend his contract with a huge raise. As for Bell, serious talks will probably hold off until next offseason. Bell will play under the franchise tag. If he keeps his nose clean he will also be rewarded with an extension.
The Steelers can certainly afford to keep both superstars in the Steel City. In all likelihood, Pittsburgh will have Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown signed to contract extensions by the beginning of the 2018 season.