The Bruin

Le’Veon Bell Holdout

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

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The National Football League’s, (NFL), regular season is in full swing.  It is now week four and teams are hard at work for wins. One of those teams is the Pittsburgh Steelers who are looking to overcome a slow 1-2-1 start to the season.  While the team prepares for this week’s matchup, star running back Le’veon Bell will be enjoying his time in south Florida.

The all-pro running back has missed training camp, the NFL preseason, and the first four games of the season.  Bell is doing what is called a “holdout.” A holdout is when a player actively resists or refuses to accept an offer.  Over the offseason, Bell was offered a reported five-year deal, worth $70 million with an estimated $33 million guaranteed, and rejected the offer.  Bell and the Steelers were not able to broker a deal before July 15, the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term deals, and Bell was left with the option of a one-year, $14.5 million deal, which was promptly rejected by the running back.

It is currently unknown when or whether Bell will return to the Steelers but until we know, the better question is, “How will this holdout affect Bell’s value?”  Players only do holdouts if they believe that they will receive a better deal. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Bell and his agent think that Bell will receive a better deal or that free agency would be a productive option.  Holdouts have worked for many players in the past such as former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who, compared to the $4.5 million he made over four years in Pittsburgh, earned over $50 million after leaving.

Wallace defended Bell over twitter where he wrote, “It’s crazy how they will make you out to be the villain when you want what you’ve earned.”

Wallace explained Bell’s decision to fans from a player’s point of view when he wrote, “You would never understand unless you were in it. Me, personally, I’ve seen this game chew people up and leave them with nothing, so when u have that small window to maximize u have to do it.”

While Wallace seems supportive of Bell’s decision, Bell has been widely criticized by his teammates and sports writers.

“What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this.  He’s making seven times what I make, twice as much as Al [Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva] is making, and we’re the guys who do it for him,” said Steelers’ offensive lineman, Ramon Foster.

  “I saw a lot of holdouts during my NFL contract negotiating days and was a party to many.  But the Pittsburgh running back, whose holdout dragged on through the preseason and is now into the third week of the regular season, has done major damage to his career just in the past two weeks,” Former Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Jeff Diamond, wrote for

Diamond continued, saying that, “Bell and Bakari are living in a fantasy land if they believe the 26-year-old will make up that money in his next contract.”

“Honestly, if I was in his place I wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing because he is already making millions.  Personally I think that it just makes him look greedy. I understand that he is one of the best players in the game and might feel as if he deserves more money; however, he is already set to earn $14.54 million (this year) which is more than any other running back in the league,” Kevin Zhang, sophomore, expressed his opinions on the holdout.

The Steelers are in dire need of a win, but replacement running back James Conner has exceeded expectations in the first four games of the season as he has rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns.  Le’veon Bell is certainly one of the best backs in the league, if not the best, but this holdout might be riskier than it seems.


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Le’Veon Bell Holdout