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Will the Bell Keep Ringing or Time to Move On?

After being optimistic for an extension a week ago we now learn Le’Veon Bell is expected to receive the franchise tag. As a fan you hope and pray to keep Bell, all while cursing out Kevin Colbert for not re-signing our star running back. The truth is, the unpopular outcome of parting ways with him could be better for the Steelers.

We all know Le’Veon is a generational player. As we hear every week during the season his combination of patient running style and ability as a receiver are incredible. Arguably when healthy and eligible there isn’t a more effective back in the league.

But remember time before Bell? The time of Rashard Mendenhall? or Willie Parker? The Steelers had success with all of those guys, none of whom are seen on the same level as Bell. The simple fact is the Steelers won 2 Super Bowls with Parker and reached a Super Bowl with Mendenhall, both are achievements that Bell has not yet helped the team achieve.

Yes I understand how good Bell is. He is amazing. But he alone will not help the Steelers win a Super Bowl. If you have not noticed, the “Killer Bees” have yet to beat Tom Brady, so is more of the same for the next 4-5 years at a higher cost what you want? The team has scored the exact same points per game (25.3) with Bell, as they have without him. Paying an astronomical amount for Bell will only hurt the team.

To keep Bell under the franchise tag for the 2018 season the Steelers will likely be required to cut multiple players on the roster, which is not good for the team’s depth. The team needs help on defense, and the 45 points Blake Bortles put up on the Steelers at home makes this issue light up brighter than Times Square. Especially with the loss of Shazier for all of 2018. If the Steelers were to move on and allocate the $15 million Bell wants into 2 or 3 solid defensive players a move like that would arguably be more useful than having a star running back on an already stacked offense.

This years draft is loaded with above average and more than serviceable running backs the Steelers could target and play behind Bell for this upcoming season. Adding a back like Derrius Guice and pairing him with Conner in 2019 would give the Steelers a very good 1-2 punch to pair with JuJu and AB. Running back by committee is not a terrible idea, this approach just helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl for half the price of Bell alone. The Eagles did not have the receiving core the Steelers have either, what they had was a stout defense that made plays when they needed them most.

The Steelers defense last year had very little depth due to very little cap room. Remember Coty Sensabaugh’s performance replacing Haden? Get used to replacements like him. With all of the giant contracts on the books the Steelers will not be able to afford any defensive depth. Defense wins championships and applying a large majority of our cap space into the offense is not going to give the Steelers the best chance of putting a championship caliber defense on the field. It is unfortunate how situations like these work out. I’m a huge Le’Veon Bell fan just like everyone else, but we could be facing the hard truth that Juice’s time in the Burgh is coming to an end.

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