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Todd Gurley Calls Le'Veon Bell's Contract Talks with Steelers a 'Sad Situation'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2018

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II in action during the first half of an NFL football wild-card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley said Tuesday that Le'Veon Bell's contract negotiations with the Pittsburgh Steelers constitute a "sad situation."

According to NFL Network's Taylor Bisciotti (h/t NFL.com's Kevin Patra), Gurley commented on the fact that Bell has been unable to secure a long-term deal despite being one of the league's best running backs:

"As a player I definitely feel where he's coming from. I don't know exactly what he wants. But if he did what he did I'm pretty sure in his mind he did the right thing. I definitely stand behind him and definitely support him. I wanted him to get that long-term deal but unfortunately it didn't work out. He's playing on the tag for the second time, which is not bad at all, but you know you just want that security. It's definitely a sad situation for a guy to be a top-three back since he's came into the league and put in the work and can't even get the money that he deserves. Definitely a sad situation."

Bell is set to play under the franchise tag for the second consecutive season after failing to strike a long-term extension prior to Monday's deadline.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari, commented on the running back's future with the Steelers after the sides failed to reach an agreement: "His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is this now likely will be Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."

Bakari added it "became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player."

Under the tag, Bell will earn $14.5 million in 2018, according to Spotrac.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler noted that while the Steelers made two significant contract offers—including one that featured a beginning yearly salary of $13.3 million—Bell said he didn't want to sign for less than $14.5 million per year.

The 26-year-old is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro who is coming off another highly productive season.

In 2018, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns. He was also one of the Steelers' top pass-catchers with 85 receptions for 655 yards and two scores.

Bell wanted to be paid like a hybrid player thanks to his excellence as a runner and receiver, but the Steelers seemingly balked at that.

Gurley is in a similar situation after finishing second in the NFL's MVP voting last season because of his varied skill set.

Gurley is eligible to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

As things stand, the Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman has the NFL's richest running back contract at five years and $41.25 million, per Spotrac.