As the Le'Veon Bell contract saga drags on for a second consecutive offseason, the Steelers running back is making it abundantly clear what he wants.
Aside from negotiating with the franchise via his agent, the three-time All Pro back is also going public with his demands in rather bizarre fashion.
Bell released a rap song called Focus back in July 2016, as he was approaching the end of his rookie deal, in which he revealed his salary demands. “I’m at the top and if not I’m the closest, I’m a need 15 a year and they know this,” the lyrics of the 2016 song read.
He updated that number to a cool $17 million last year, which the Steelers failed to meet, and he's now released a fresh song called Target outlining his increasingly strong stance on getting paid what he feels he deserves.
The song also includes a not-so-subtle shot at fans who have expressed their displeasure over his second offseason holdout in as many years.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter transcribed some of the more poignant lyrics, and it's safe to say nobody associated with the Steelers will be particularly impressed by the content and the blatantly defiant message Bell conveys.
"So they put me on the tag, alright.
Definitely not going to trip like I that bad guy.
Wonder why they treat me like the bad guy.
You say I ain't the best, but that's a bad lie.
I'm a do what I want just leave me alone.
If I don't do what you want then you want me gone.
I'm a say you being real aggressive, the way you switch up on me real impressive."
"You can see i'm doing shows, so you think I'm out of shape.
Hey, the fact I want paid all these people want to trade,
I'm the one they want to hate so to me I'm a target.
You think if I sit out, I'll be sluggish.
You think they won't pay me because of drug tests.
For a fact, I ain't never failed one, that's on me. You so worried about the weed, what about them PEDs?"
Bell's message is clear, he doesn't feel like he's getting paid what he deserves and he seems sick of the criticism he's receiving for his holdout.
For context, even playing under the franchise tag, Bell is the highest paid running back in the NFL. He's set to make $14.42 million in 2018, over $4 million more than any other back, and if no long term deal can be agreed with the Steelers before July 16, and he'll earn even more next year if the same situation arises.
Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, Pittsburgh would probably walk away should he carry on demanding more and more money, especially given the wide availability of productive backs coming out of the college game these days.
He may feel like a target, but there's a point to be made that Bell needs to be more realistic about his demands, and it'll be highly intriguing to see if any teams would be willing to offer him the kind of pay day he so desperately seeks should he hit the open market in 2019.
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