Cap Class: Le’Veon Bell is There a Positive to the Holdout?  Yes!

By: G.Stryker

Cap Class is a series where I break down the cap to find the amounts associated with the roster, dead money, or future cost of players.  Dollar amounts and cap cost may not be exciting, but they can be interesting when you look inside the numbers.

So the worst possible scenario has happened with Le’Veon Bell.  He has chosen to hold out. Though it is a negative for letting his teammates, fans, and organization down, it does allow him to limit the number of snaps he takes this season.  Bell only played 16 games once in is career (2014).  The Steelers did give him the week off to rest last year in week 17 when he played in 15 games. Also for a player that wants to be the best of all time, it is difficult to win a rushing title or gain any yardage if you are not playing.  

Though there is no defined end to Bell’s holdout, it does not need to be viewed as a complete negative.  Every Saturday at 4pm, if Bell chooses not to sign his Franchise Tender, the Steelers gain $855k. This cap space is important, because it was cap space the Steelers were not planning on, so it is likely to be unused.  If that amount is unused, it rolls over to next year’s cap. So each week Bell holds out, he is helping the Steelers gain cap space in 2018 and 2019, not to mention that his cap value next year also drops to zero if he is not resigned.

There is nothing in Bell’s contract that can be changed by holding out.  The contract is set in stone, since the sides could not come to a long term agreement on July 15th.  This means Bell can only play under the Franchise Tag terms for this season.  This does not change if he holds out, or is traded.  The only way Bell can get a new contract is if the Steelers rescind the tag.  He would then become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team.  Though it would not be as lucrative to sign a long term contract during the season as opposed to the start of free agency when every team has cap space and can openly compete for his services.  Since the Steelers are benefitting financially each week he holds out, and should also gain a 3rd round compensation pick, it is unlikely the Steelers will drop him.

Adisa Bakari is the agent for Bell and his agency is called The Sports and Entertainment Group, LLC.  It appears that Bell is their only blue chip client, so moving forward, it may be difficult for them to properly represent players if they are rostered on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers have a long history of not negotiating with players that hold out. Since TSEG is a new company, they may learn the hard way that trying to play hard ball with an organization that has a clear policy of dealing with players that choose not to play, might hurt their ability to properly represent their clients in the future.

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