Le’Veon Bell Reaps Reward of odd Approach in 2018

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At the time, Le’Veon Bell’s decision to forgo the 2018 season, thus leave $14 million dollars on the table, appeared to be one of the most irresponsible decisions made in professional sports. He would’ve nearly doubled his career earnings by playing in 2018 alone. Never mind the fact he was turning his back on the Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase and teammates; this was just terrible business.

Bell agreed to terms with the New York Jets on a four-year deal worth $52.5 million according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter also reports $35 million is guaranteed and the deal can be worth up to $61 million.

Quick math shows the annual value of the guaranteed money doesn’t add up to what Bell left on the table in 2018. Even if his contract reaches the $52.5 million, he’s still under the $14 million dollar mark annually ($13.125 million AAV).

But, as much as it was a selfish move, Bell has proven he made the right move in 2018 — despite not getting the $17 million annually he reportedly wanted. Looking at the sheer volume alone, he’s guaranteed to make $21 million more over the life of this contract than he would have in his last year with Pittsburgh.

Now, had he still played in 2018, he could be $14 million richer and none of this discussion would matter. Bell might’ve been able to pull more money if he hadn’t taken a full-fledged vacation. Signing a guy who’s taken that much time off comes with risks.

What if Bell played though and the inverse happened? What if Bell had gotten hurt?

He still would have made that $14 million, but it’d end there. Nothing else guaranteed on the horizon despite being the best running back in the game and arguably the NFL’s best playmaker.

Those are risks that come with any sport, though. Any day could be someone’s last.

Now, you can’t play sports forever living in fear of an injury. If that’s always a fear, you shouldn’t be in sports. However, in this case, from purely a business perspective, Bell got it right.

Running backs are a different breed in the sense that they take a similar beating to a non-skill position player while being asked to do what skill position players do, more or less. While with the Steelers, Bell averaged 19.82 carries a game. In 2017 he was handed the ball 21.4 times per game. Given the amount of risk that comes with each play, it almost would have been irresponsible for Bell to play with no promise of an extension.

Too bad he’s on a team that will be lucky to win seven games this year.

Something the New York Jets should keep in mind: start planning for year four of Bell’s contract. If he’s still good at that point, you can bet he’ll pull the same thing again.

Lastly, he must’ve really hated it in Pittsburgh to turn down that initial deal he was reportedly offered before the 2018 season. That or he got bad advice. Because this is a significant paycut from the Steelers’ offer last year, despite receiving a slight bit more in guaranteed money. But this one was probably the best he was getting on the market, given the…unique nature of his situation. Or the report could’ve been something the Steelers leaked as their way of showing they tried to extend Bell, and maybe they stretched the truth on the amount of money they offered.

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