But the back-and-forth negotiations with the franchise over two offseasons have forced Bell to consider all options, including 2019 free agency. Playing prime years at a position with a short shelf life on one-year retainers kind of feels like “settling,” Bell said.
“If they don’t want to pay me long term, then let me go test the market,” Bell said about the big picture in an interview with ESPN on Monday, a day before the Steelers officially placed the franchise tag on Bell at a salary of $14.544 million.
To be sure, Bell’s asking price of at least $14.5 million per year has made a marriage workable but challenging. The Steelers have increased their offer in recent weeks and are believed to be close to his number.
But Bell said he has at least thought about this scenario: play a second consecutive year on the tag, resulting in a $26.664 million payout over two seasons, then hit free agency at age 27 and sign with Pittsburgh or any other suitors.
The Steelers and Bell have until July 16 to work on a deal, after which Bell plans to skip training camp if asked to play on the tag again. He has threatened retirement in interviews with ESPN but said during an Instagram Live chat Wednesday night that he doesn’t want to miss games. Passing on nearly $1 million per game is not exactly sound financial planning.
But Bell plans to still have mileage left in him after next season, and even if he’s no longer considered in his prime, getting a reasonable contract elsewhere might push him over $50 million in guaranteed money when factoring in the two tags.
Bell is willing to bet on himself if it comes to that. He believes his injury-plagued days are over.
“For me to get hurt [again] will take a lot,” Bell said. “I know when I’m 30 or 31 years old, I know I’ll be productive because I don’t depend solely on my athletic ability to get open and get yards. It’s more my mind. The Steelers know that.”
Bell has said multiple times he wants to be a standard-bearer for a suppressed running backs market. Even his offensive line teammates are rooting him on and “telling me I need to get what I deserve,” Bell said.
Bell isn’t sure if he’ll ever end up a true free agent one day. But he’s willing to be patient as long as the Steelers are, too.
“This is what I kind of expected,” Bell said of the likelihood of drawn-out negotiations for the second consecutive summer. “I know how the league feels about running backs. I’m not a guy who will budge off how I feel about my work.”
New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas ruled out vs. Green Bay Packers with ankle injury
METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas won’t play in Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers after he was ruled out for the second straight week with his high ankle sprain.
Thomas has not practiced since he suffered the ankle injury during the final minutes of New Orleans’ Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the team chose not to place him on injured reserve — which would have required him to miss at least three games. So there is still hope that he could potentially return as soon as next week.
The Saints’ offense struggled without Thomas in Monday night’s 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, which led to scrutiny over Drew Brees’ lack of downfield passes.
Brees completed 26 of 38 passes for 312 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Third-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith caught five passes for 86 yards, but newly signed veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders had just once catch for 18 yards.
“Obviously with the loss of Mike Thomas last week, we’re having to fit some guys in new roles, get some guys some significant playing time, maybe in different situations that they haven’t been in before,” Brees said earlier this week. “I think there definitely is that element of just getting everybody on the same page, everybody in sync. And man, I’m confident with the guys that we have, with the system that we have and everything that we’re gonna be able to get back on track.”
Thomas is obviously vital to New Orleans’ offense. He won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award last season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in a season.
Thomas isn’t the only star receiver who might be missing from Sunday night’s marquee matchup, however. Packers receiver Davante Adams is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week with a hamstring injury.
Detroit Lions’ Kenny Golladay (hamstring) hopes to make debut vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Detroit Lions seem to be closer to getting back their top wide receiver.
Kenny Golladay said he hopes to make his season debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. “God-willing, I’m going to try everything in my power to be out there with the guys,” Golladay said.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and said while he doesn’t feel 100 percent — he wouldn’t put a percentage on how healthy he is — he’s going to do everything he can and show enough to play against Arizona.
In three career games, Golladay has three touchdowns against Arizona.
Golladay, 26, said the injury has been frustrating, but that unlike his rookie year when he also had a hamstring injury, he listened to his body more this time around. He also said he understood his body more and wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any setbacks. So he listened to his trainers and didn’t push anything.
“Me missing a couple of games to try and be back hopefully for Week 3,” Golladay said. “That’s better than me missing six games.”
Detroit is getting healthier. In addition to Golladay, right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) is questionable but practiced all week. Cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) is doubtful, safety C.J. Moore (calf) is questionable and tight end Hunter Bryant (hamstring) is out.
Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley finally set for season debut
Beasley has been dealing with a knee injury that limited him in practice for most of the previous two weeks. After working on a separate field with head coach Mike Vrabel, Beasley has been a full participant at practice since Thursday of last week.
The sixth-year linebacker signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Titans in March and took part in virtual meetings with the team during the offseason. But Beasley reported to camp 10 days late, an unexcused absence that resulted in a $500,000 fine.
“There was a little disagreement here and there, but those things are behind us. I have moved on and let bygones be bygones,” Beasley said Friday. “That’s something that we’ll keep confidential between me and the other party. What’s understood is understood. We came to an agreement, settled our differences and are both understanding of the situation. It’s all smiles on both ends, and we are happy to work together.”
Once Beasley got to camp he was placed on the non-football injury list. The Titans listed Beasley on the practice report with a knee injury. Beasley complimented the Titans’ training staff, calling it “amazing” and saying “they have been nothing but good” for him.
As a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2015. He finished with 8.5 sacks for the Falcons last season. A questionable work ethic and passion for the game reportedly led to Beasley becoming a free agent. But he feels he’s in the right place with the Titans.
“I’m excited getting to work with Vrabes, a guy who has the defensive perspective and actually played the same position that I did. That can only benefit me,” Beasley said. “I love the game. I wouldn’t waste nobody’s time if I didn’t love the game. I’m not going to give nobody half-hearted effort.”
Now that he is on the field, the Titans hope to get a boost in their pass rush that can help them reach the ultimate goal. Said Beasley, “Here, we are all on the same mission — that’s to win the Super Bowl.”
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