Well, he showed them, then. Turning down an annual salary that would have the salary cap committee of the NRL breathing hard and sweating profusely, Pittsburgh Steeler star running back Le’Veon Bell did not turn out by the deadline to report to play for the team in the 2018 – 2019 NFL season.
It was a matter of principle.
Bell wanted to stay with Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh wanted him to stay.
If Bell was contracted with the San Francisco 49ers or the horror show across the bay known as the Oakland Raiders, he would have gotten everything he wanted and those two clubs would have hired consultants to dream up other ways to show their appreciation.
Bell wanted a contract extension, just a longer one that the Steelers were prepared to offer.
Bell’s principles are going to come at a hefty price. By holding out, he is relinquishing his pay for the season, almost 20 million Roos. That is a 20 followed by six zeroes.
The club took a hard line, which surprised no one around the NFL, as Pittsburgh shows little patience with players who do not toe the company line.
Bell is a free agent at the end of the season. He will be compensated with a salary that could make the entire player budget for the West Coast Eagles look like couch change.
But, which club has the money to pay him?
It will very likely be one of the bottom dwellers, maybe even one of the two California franchises from above.
If this thing plays out once again as it so often has in the past, Bell will join one of the stragglers, the New York Jets, or perhaps the Cleveland Browns, where he will blow up a knee and never again be the object of desire of every NFL fantasy player in the world.
Bell may find that his value has dropped precipitously. Pittsburgh found James Connor, who stepped in with zero drop-off in productivity and his salary is low enough that it makes all manner of space for Pittsburgh to go out in the offseason and fill its larder with premier players at every position.