When former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season in search of a new contract, he faced considerable criticism. Why would he pass up more than $14 million on a one-year deal and choose to instead sit at home watching his team fight through a grueling season? No part of this major decision made sense to viewers at home, but Bell is hoping to open some eyes.
Monday afternoon, Dianna Russini of ESPN posted a small snippet of a conversation that she had with Bell, who is now a member of the New York Jets. This tease for an upcoming interview was highlighted by Bell's explanation of his holdout and his mindset following the big decision. As it turns out, Bell feels like a true winner after signing a four-year contract with the Jets.
"I won," Bell said. "I'm happy. I got the opportunity to hit free agency, which I ultimately wanted to do. I got a guaranteed contract like I ultimately wanted to do. I got to play for a great city, a great organization like I ultimately wanted to do. With the holdout, there is nothing I would do different."
As Bell continued to explain, the biggest talking point when he was holding out was that he was missing out on $14 million dollars. In his mind, he didn't lose any money because this wasn't his to begin with. The $14.45 million that was part of the franchise tag wasn't actually his because he never signed the deal.
Yes, the average salary of $13.125 million with the New York Jets is less than Bell would have made under the franchise tag, but the bigger issue for him was not how much he made each season. In Bell's opinion, it was far more critical to secure the guaranteed money that would stay with him in case of injury.
If he had signed the $14.45 million franchise tag and played for the Steelers in 2018, Bell would have faced significant risk. Any injury would have possibly hurt his opportunities for another contract in the future. Holding out gave him the opportunity to dictate the situation and ultimately secure the guaranteed money for which he was searching.
Obviously, there were far more thoughts provided by Bell in the interview, but the entire clip will not be shown until Monday evening. The full segment will air on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. EST.