With all the hoopla that went on with Antonio Brown and his departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders, most people seemed to forget that the team dealt with Le’Veon Bell talk throughout the 2018 season.
The running back was unwilling to sign another franchise tag and elected to sit out the entire year and bet on himself in free agency. It ultimately worked out as he got the contract he wanted from the New York Jets to the tune of a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets, including $25 million in fully guaranteed money.
Now that he’s gone, the all-pro is speaking out about his final season with the team.
During his album release party, Bell spoke with TheMMBQB.com and revealed he was ever so close to taking a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I was so close,” Bell admits now. “Like, I almost [signed] it.”
He contributed his decision to move on in part due to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
”Yes, it was a factor,” said Bell. The running back goes onto say that he wishes Roethlisberger was, “more open, more genuine, more real.”
“Quarterbacks are leaders; it is what it is,” Bell continued. “But you’re still a teammate at the end of the day. You’re not Kevin Colbert. You’re not [team president Art] Rooney.”
Big Ben has been taking a bunch of shots this offseason from former teammates, with one of the biggest coming from Josh Harris who accused him of purposely fumbling the football in a game back in 2014 because he didn’t appreciate a call from Todd Haley late in the game.
Says Bell, “The organization wants to win. Tomlin wants to win. Ben wants to win—but Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and [the team] let him get there.
He adds: “So if I’m mad at a player and I’m not throwing him the ball—if I’m not throwing A.B. the ball and I’m giving JuJu [Smith-Schuster] all the shine or Jesse [James] or Vance [McDonald] or whoever it is, and you know consciously you’re making your other receiver mad but you don’t care—it’s hard to win that way.”
In 2017, Bell touched the ball a whopping 406 times (including 85 catches) for 1,946 all-purpose yards.