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Should Le’veon Bell be a long-term Steeler?

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Pittsburgh Steelers’ star running back Le’veon Bell has recently signed a franchise tag agreement, which makes Bell a Steeler for at least one more season.

Bell is a great running back and arguably a top three back in the NFL today. However, if the Steelers plan to sign him long-tern next year, his durability, availability and personality are factors that must be carefully considered.

First, Bell has not always made smart off-the-field decisions. Before the 2014 preseason, Bell and a teammate were pulled over and charged with DUI and possession of marijuana. This was an unfortunate incident, but Bell was still young and everyone makes mistakes; I get that.

Bell went on to have an exceptional season that year, rushing for more than 1,300 yards, second in the NFL. However, the Steelers failed to make the playoffs.

The next season, Bell served a four-game suspension for his DUI incident.

Then leading into the 2016 season, Bell missed multiple drug tests and was suspended for the thirst three games of the season.

So the first question to consider before signing Bell to a long-term contract is, Can he be trusted to make the right decisions off the field?

The second question also concerns availability. Le’veon Bell has failed to keep healthy, especially when the Steelers needed him most.

Bell got hurt his rookie season and missed three games. He also suffered an MCL injury at the end of the 2015 season, which left him out the entire postseason. Most recently, he suffered a groin injury during the AFC championship versus the Patriots.

So in summary, Bell has completed only one full season of his four-year career with the Steelers. That just doesn’t seem very promising.

Bell is a great player as we all know, but we must also understand that any athlete’s best ability is his availability.

Finally, Bell’s personality is also something that should concern the Steelers. Bell has shown signs of being self-absorbed and over-confident.

For instance, leading up to this year’s divisional playoff game versus the Chiefs, Bell went public to claim he has revolutionized the running back position as Stephen Curry has the point guard spot in the NBA.

Bell is a unique running back with an exceptional ability to catch and block. However, to say he has revolutionized the games is a stretch. This is an outrageous claim to make without any rings or league MVP awards.

Also, after sports columnist Skip Bayless said Bell was not the best back in the game, Bell responded by recording a rap he titled “Scrimp Bayless.”

Each of these antics occurred before significant playoff games, at a time when Bell should be focused on the task at hand. However, Bell seems to be more concerned about his name in headlines.

I don’t know if Bell is trying to build his brand or if he’s just that immature, but he is failing to realize how his behavior is affecting the organization who cuts his check.

So how does all this relate to Bell’s long-term contract? Will these actions bringing unwanted attention cause the Steelers to part ways with him?

I’m not here to bash Bell as a person, because I don’t know him personally. But if I’m in the Steelers front office, I have to understand these issues cannot be ignored and that Bell’s detrimental behavior will outweigh his ability on the field.

He’s a great talent who has the potential to be the best running back ever to put on a Steelers uniform. However, the Steelers must understand that if they want to keep him long term, he is a loose screw that must be tightened to fit the organization.

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Should Le’veon Bell be a long-term Steeler?