PITTSBURGH – A moment after 10:00, Le & Veon Bell left the New York Jets facility with his first opportunity to exhale. He toured the facilities of the team, spoke in a conference call with the New York media, took dozens of photos and still did not reject his Jets cap.
The first day in an NFL office in 14 months had to be tasted.
"I am very happy," Bell said in a long telephone interview with ESPN after attending the New York media in his conference call. "Don't get me wrong, not everything happened without problems".
Everyone involved in their complicated franchise tag negotiations felt those bumps in a race that eventually led Bell to New York. the The Pittsburgh Steelers accused their dislike during Bell's one-year absence, and Bell tried to block the waves of criticism for his decision to leave the $ 14.5 million in the owner's box instead of his wallet.
Bell chose to protect themselves against injuries and the promise of future guaranteed money above all else. That conviction to live an entire season of the NFL was one of the hardest things he has ever done in his life.
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Speaking of his time, Bell confirmed his original plan to report to the Steelers in week 7, who reported ESPN on October 1. Bell said he was planning to come up during the team's break in Week 7 to sign his tag and get to work, but shortly before that Bell heard he didn't have to play games to get to Free Agency . He previously thought he had to play six games to have an accredited season, but it turned out that he was a free agent, provided the Steelers didn't tag him again. The Steelers finally decided that the 14.5 million transition label for 2019 was too expensive.
Bell came across this on social networks shortly before the break and then consulted his agent Adisa Bakari. That changed his plan to report and couldn't tell anyone, because that would reveal too much about his future plans. In week 10, The Athletic reported that Bell had collected "information" in the process that allowed him to be considered a third-year franchisor in 2019, whether or not he missed the year. A third tag would have cost the Steelers much more than their 14.5 million in 2018.
"That was the biggest confusion all the time," Bell said. "I thought I had to leave until week 10, otherwise I could be tagged again." Shortly before the week off, I learned that I didn't have to play.
The Steelers never approached him before the October 30 deadline, so Bell rejected this. But he left open the possibility of putting on the Pittsburgh uniform again. Early in week 10, Bell flew to Pittsburgh on a whim. He was in his house. He tried to play basketball to clear his mind. In the days prior to the team's 52-21 win over the Carolina Panthers, Bell was on his couch and ready to take the keys to his car to go to the club's facilities.
"I was very close to doing it," he acknowledged. "At the same time I was indecisive, will I go through that, will they accept me or not?" Eventually I decided that if I had missed 10 games, I could miss six more, during that time the team played badly, had problems, a lot of guilt about it. I didn't want to go back and feel welcome. & # 39;
The runner, who was criticized for not playing with the Steelers last season, said he was happy that he had achieved a "great deal" to play in New York.
This is an expected move after the team agreed on Wednesday morning with Le & Veon Bell.
The agreement between the two parties reaches a maximum of $ 61 million and the broker would get 35 million guaranteed, says Adam Schefter.
The way Bell saw it, the only advantage of playing last year was in a minor role, not his usual load of 25 touches per game. Bell didn't want to take that risk.
"If I had left the last six games and hurt me, I would have felt bad," he said.
So he enjoyed the year of rest, he increased his training routine in November. He spent time with his family, traveled to Los Angeles and his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. He was calm knowing that he had reached a position of flexibility. Bell and his team believed that the Steelers would not want to deal with a transition label that would limit their flexibility and pose a major challenge to reach a trade.
All this was the reason for Bell to try to restore the broker market. Bell received a guaranteed $ 25 million in his four-year, $ 52.5 million deal with the Jets, which is exactly what Arizona Cardinals who went back to David Johnson ($ 24.682 million) received.
But it's hard to ignore the money that Bell left in Pittsburgh.
The offer for five seasons and 70 million for Bell de los Steelers last season would have earned him around 45 million in the first three years, although the salaries were not guaranteed. That is a difference of 19 million from the 26 million that you can earn with the Jets in the first two years.
Bell assumed that fans and the media expected he would receive between 16 and 17 million a year and he was prepared not to get it. Guarantees were of the utmost importance and the Steelers remained short in that area.
"[El promedio por año] It was good The money flow for three years is great. But you have to give me a center, "he said.[los Steelers] they tried not to give me, to take, or to leave me room for movement. At the end of the day I wanted to go where I was happy and had guaranteed the money, whatever happened to me. I've seen what happened [el apoyador de los Steelers] Ryan Shazier [quien podría nunca jugar de nuevo luego de perderse la mayor parte de las últimas dos temporadas por una lesión en la columna vertebral]and I've seen it with my own eyes. I have to protect myself. The owners protect themselves, I have to do the same. All other equipment and it would have been completely good. But the way [los Steelers] they've structured it and as I am, I just can't do it. The way in which [Los Angeles] Rams did it [con el contrato de Todd Gurley] it was perfect, the cardinals with David Johnson, Zeke [Elliott] He will probably kill him. & # 39;
Bell's exodus led him to the colors white and green, a new team and a new city that he wanted to conquer.
However, he became an All-Pro who wore black and gold, something he will not forget.
& # 39; I love the city of Pittsburgh, & # 39; Bell said. "People got mad at me, which is understandable, because I feel like I'm not on the field with you, but everyone has a right to how they feel, I have no resentment towards anyone. Better there, it worked Just no. "