Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell says no to a five year $70 million contract with $30+ million guaranteed. What does this tell Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley?
Gurley calls the result of Bell’s contract dispute "a sad situation", and is also on record stating he "just wants like $80 million".
On one hand you kind of get where Bell is coming from. To catch as many passes as he does (75 in 2016, 85 in 2017) might warrant a contract similar to that of the recent deals handed out to receivers like Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, or Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry. Because he is not only catching a lot of passes, but he is also running the ball at an insane rate (321 attempts in 2017). He is simply doing more than most.
On the other hand, through all those touches, he still didn’t outgain or outscore a Gurley that did not play all 16 games nor did he finish all 15 games that he did play. Often times during the 2017 NFL season, Gurley found himself riding the pine in the second half of games due to the Rams blowing teams out.
If Todd can produce 80-85% in 2018 of what he did last year, the Rams could be in trouble. Bell has done it over a longer period of time (which also makes some sense), but he also has a history of lower body injury woes, a less than stellar touchdown rate in averaging only 7.6 TDs the last three seasons (especially compared to Gurley and some other to backs in the league like Atlanta Falcons RB Devonte Freeman; they both averaged 11.6 TDs/year the last three years), and he has had some questionable off-field decisions in the past. Still through all this, he feels that $14 million a year is not enough for his services. If Bell performs this year, and gets paid next year, the Rams are in trouble.
Le'Veon’s rejection could be setting the Rams up for a major battle with Gurley. The young RB is already on record stating that he believes players should have fully guaranteed contracts, and even mentions a player’s strike. He also has publicly supported Bell in his efforts to get the highest dollar that he can.
All of this may very well be a sign that Gurley is not going to be afraid to fight the same fight that Bell has been fighting, and with even more YPC and per catch, plus more TDs, Gurley would be well within his right to demand more than whatever Bell wants for himself.