In the last two days, Antonio Brown has sent multiple social media messages to Le’Veon Bell urging him to return to Steelers’ offseason activities:
Bell, who was hit with the franchise tag and did not reach a long-term deal with the Steelers before the deadline, skipped mini-camp in June. Training camp beckons.
Typically, a team could fine a player for skipping mandatory offseason camps. However, under the rule of the franchise tag, Bell can sign the deal the night before opening day, and not miss any paychecks.
Antonio Brown may have good intentions here. He wants the Steelers firing on all cylinders. In 2015, when he’d been outperforming his contract and saw worse receivers get bigger deals, he said, “Holdouts never go well. Just look at history. It always ends badly. It wouldn’t be the best decision. I make a lot of money. I pull up to camp in Rolls-Royces.”
Last year, he said, “I would never hold out. I’ve never held out. I’m a first-class guy in any relationship. The first way of getting better is showing up, so I’m always going to show up and do my part and be ready to go.”
But, Bell is 25 years old. That may not sound that old but as a running back his biological clock is ticking. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry each of the last two seasons, stuck on a rookie contract. There aren’t many bites at the apple for him. If the Steelers aren’t going to give him multi-year security, why should he make that decision easy for them by acquiescing to all their wishes?
If you’re inclined to call Bell a diva, how do you feel about Emmitt Smith, who famously held out from the Cowboys into the regular season in 1993?
From the Steelers’ perspective, Bell was suspended for three games last season for violating the league’s drug policy, and played just six games in 2015 because of injuries. So, they are hesitant to give him a long-term deal.
Nevertheless, Brown should recognize the predicament Bell is in, and creating a wedge in the locker room probably isn’t the best way to go about this.