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Thursday, April 09, 2015

A look at the Steelers, Part V

With the news of Le'Veon Bell's suspension for the first three games of the season being announced today, it's a good time to continue this ongoing series with a look at that position.

Bell was the Steelers' MVP in 2014, setting team records for total yards from scrimmage (2,215), receptions by a running back (83) and receiving yards by a running back (854).

How important is Bell to the Steelers' offense? In his two seasons with the team, they are 19-10 when he plays, 0-4 when he does not.

The interesting thing about Bell's suspension - which he is appealing - is that he not only will not be paid for the first three weeks of the season, but the league also is fining him a fourth game check in the week that he is permitted to return, bringing his total lost wages to $194,900 of a salary of $779,600.

That, to me, seems excessive, particularly the fine for the fourth game, which totals nearly $49,000.

If I were Bell, I'd be tempted to sit out that game rather than put my health on the line for no pay. He understandably wants to put this incident behind him and likely won't do that, but the temptation has to be there.

With Bell now down for those first three weeks, the Steelers' decision to bring in DeAngelo Williams  to a two-year deal looks better.

It was assumed that Bell would get at least two games, which would have been tough. But without him for three games - nearly 20 percent of the schedule - the Steelers needed a running back capable of handling the ball 15-20 times per game in those contests.

Williams, 31, was nicked up quite a bit in 2014, but had seven games in 2013 when he had at least 15 touches while sharing time with Jonathan Stewart.

It's important that the Steelers keep Williams healthy and ready to go for that first month of the season, which means youngsters Dri Archer and Josh Harris could also be worked into the equation.

But the Steelers also will look to the draft to bring some young competition into that equation as well, though likely not in the first three rounds.

Archer, a diminutive speedster has drawn plenty of criticism from fans because he didn't contribute much in 2014. But he did contribute in the playoff loss to Baltimore when Bell was out with an injury. He'll have this offseason to work on his chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - which was off at times - and try to reclaim the kick return job.

Harris is a tough back with some decent quickness. He was activated off the practice squad when LeGarrette Blount was released in November, but did not play much until the playoffs, when he had 25 yards on nine carries.

Will Johnson will be back as the team's fullback after the Steelers tendered him an offer as a restricted free agent. He catches the ball well - even though he's a bit underutilized in that area - and has gotten considerably better as a lead blocker.


Anonymous said...

His appeal will get back that ridiculous 4th game paycheck

marc said...

3 games = horse sh!t.

first time offender gets docked 25% of his pay. nfl is a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping they bump it down to two after the appeal...think this might bump the quality of RB up a round. As opposed to taking a RB in the 6th-7th round they may take a guy they really like in the 5th....(Cobb/Langford/David Johnson)

Anonymous Brian said...

It'll be good practice. Running backs are dinged up all the time anyway. Hopefully Harris or a late-rounder or UFA is a player as well.

Mock Schedule 1.0:

@ St L
@ Sea


@ Cle
@ KC
@ Cin

@ NE

@ SD
@ Bal

datruth4life said...

Dale, Pierre Thomas formerly of the Saints is still looking for a home. How about signing him to a 1-year deal after the FA period for compensatory picks is done with? I'd feel more comfortable having Thomas and Williams on the roster instead of the other FA kid the team added when Blount was released.

datruth4life said...

Dale, your thoughts on CB Marcus Peters? Do you think the Steelers would select him at no. 22?

Zeke R said...

Thank you Troy for being such an awesome player and even a better role model off the field, can't wait to see you in that yellow jacket.

Anonymous said...

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Anonymous said...

First ballot HOFer. Honor to watch him play. But how does Wexell get the exclusive? He threaten to assault Troy to make him give the interview?

Anonymous said...

Definitely waiting to hear your take on this Dale, and more specifically whether the Steelers will want to file his retirement papers before or after June 1?

Save $6M this season to push $2M in dead money into 2016 salary or do they save $3.75M and pay $4.25M in dead money this year and wash their hands of it moving forward...the reason this is even a debate for me is because of the lack of FA we acquired or I expect Pitt to acquire. Only need ~$5M-$6M in cap space to sign the rookies and I think we are well over that, IIRC.

Qwikdoc said...

Bell shouldn't appeal the severity of the suspension. He needs to appeal his stupidity for smoking pot in his car. Personally i don't care if these guys smoke pot. Whatever. It's their choice to shorten their life. But smoking in their car while driving is sheer stupidity and deserving of stiff punishment for an idiotic act, not because of the legality. The team should make him wear a dunce cap for the entire time of the suspension to reinforce that he should smoke in his home and not in his car.

Anonymous said...

When you say 'shorten their life' are you referring to playing football or smoking pot, because if it's the latter ... lol