PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers met with agent Drew Rosenhaus five times this offseason. They were determined to get Antonio Brown's deal done quickly.
As for the franchise-tagged Le'Veon Bell, the wait continues. I didn't get any indications that the Steelers planned to do Bell's deal in tandem with Brown, whose path to a contract was more clear-cut. Top receivers are getting $15 million per year, and that's essentially what Brown is getting -- five years and $72.71 million with a $19 million signing bonus. Receivers simply get paid more than running backs, no matter how great Bell is.
Meanwhile, the Steelers would be wise to see what happens with Adrian Peterson, whose salary average of $14 million per year is about to come off the books as the Minnesota Vikings restructure his $18 million option for 2017 or cut him. The tailback with the next-highest cap hit is LeSean McCoy at $8.875 million per year. Though I doubt Bell would take McCoy's per-year payout of $8 million, he won't get Peterson money. He might get something close to his $12.4 million franchise tag, though.
That's in part why the Steelers and Bell have until July 15 to hammer out a long-term contract. There's no rush on this complicated deal. Bell's greatness prevents him from taking a bad deal, while the Steelers could try to use Bell's back-to-back suspensions and injury history against him in negotiations.
The good news for the Steelers and Bell: They are with each other for at least another season but hope for a long-term partnership. That officially pairs two of the game's best playmakers side-by-side to chase a seventh Super Bowl title for the franchise.
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