We are officially three weeks into the NFL preseason and running back LeVeon Bell still has not reported to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The ever-going battle between the Steelers and Bell came to a head earlier this offseason when the two sides failed to reach a deal on a new contract for franchise players.
Last season, Bell played on the franchise tag, which was a one-year deal worth $12 million. It appears that the All-Pro running back will be doing the same thing this season when he does show up.
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Bell is set to make $14.5 million this season and reportedly turned down a five-year, $70 million, which would have paid him on average $14 million per year. The star running back obviously wants more than that.
At the time, Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reported that Bell was looking for a contract that would pay him near $17 million. Even though it seems like the Steelers' front office wants to get something long-term done with Bell, the damage might already be done.
Bell wants to be paid like a top-tier running back and it does not help that fellow running back Todd Gurley inked a four-year, $57.5 million contract extension late last month.
When news of Gurley's extension broke, Bell responded on Twitter with congratulations for the Los Angeles Rams running back, but then added "lol and people thought I was trippin?.."
The former second-round pick might not be in the wrong with his financial request. Bell has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL over the last few seasons with what he brings to the Steelers' offense.
In five seasons, Bell rushed for over 1,000 yards three times and contributed over 500 receiving yards three times. If the Steelers do not want to meet Bell's financial demands there will be multiple teams who will.
A couple of days ago, Bovada released its odds on where Bell will be playing next season:
LeVeon Bell 2019-20 team odds
Indianapolis Colts: +375
New York Jets: +400
Pittsburgh Steelers: +400
Detroit Lions: +550
Cleveland Browns: +550
As we can see, the Indianapolis Colts are the favorite to land Bell, which makes sense.
Heading into this season, they do not have a lead running back on their roster. Instead, the Colts have a mixture of young, unproven players and Christine Michael.
Therefore, they could use a big-time running back such as Bell to go along with veterans quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton next season.
Indianapolis' offense would not be as explosive like Pittsburgh's, but in the AFC South that could be the difference in making the playoffs or not.
Along with the Colts, the Jets could use Bell to pair with the young signal-caller Sam Darnold in the Big Apple next season. New York currently has a running back by committee system with veteran Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, and Thomas Rawls.
All of these running backs have things that they do well, but none of them is a game breaker like Bell. It should be interesting to see what happens over the next few months in the LeVeon Bell saga.
Will the Steelers pony up the money and give LeVeon Bell what he wants or will he ultimately take his talents somewhere else in 2019?