By Evan Bleier / March 20, 2019

Le’Veon Bell Originally Planned to Miss Week 1, Not Entire 2018 Season

The star running back was seeking $15 million per year from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) stretches before the football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans on December 25, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) stretches before the football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans on December 25, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After sitting out the entire 2018 season, Le’Veon Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with New York this month with $35 million in guaranteed money.

Bell was seeking a deal worth $15 million per year from the Pittsburgh Steelers and had originally thought he’d just need to miss Week 1 in order to get it.

He was wrong as the closest Pittsburgh ever came to meeting his demands was a final offer of five years for $70 million — $14 million per year — with only a $10 million signing bonus guaranteed.

“At first I was literally thinking like, ‘I don’t want to play camp and OTAs’ because of the hurt in my body and I’m like, ‘I’m not playing,'” Bell told Sports Illustrated. “When Week 1 comes, I’m going to come, but the things that kind of led up to Week 1, I started thinking, ‘I’m not going to play Week 1.’ After even Week 1, it started to build up and it’s not making me feel comfortable.”

He then set a goal of returning after the bye week, but realized the Steelers could still franchise him after the season – at a higher cost to them. Once Bell figured that out, he decided to sit out the entire season. “That’s when I got to the point when it’s like, ‘oh, yeah. If I don’t got to come back, then I’m not going to come back,’” he said.

In the interview, Bell also shared he played endless hours of Madden to get his football fix and also would call his mother when the Steelers were playing and analyze Pittsburgh’s game plan from his couch.

While he was complimentary to his replacement James Conner on Twitter, he also privately fretted that he was getting more goal-line work than Bell had gotten himself.