NFL Notes: Steelers’ Bell raps about being ‘Target’ Staff

May 27, 2018 at 7:31 pm.

Oct 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers runningback Le'Veon Bell (26) runs for a first down as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil (59) and linebacker Vincent Rey (57) give chase in the second quarter at Heinz Field. Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 22, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers runningback Le’Veon Bell (26) runs for a first down as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil (59) and linebacker Vincent Rey (57) give chase in the second quarter at Heinz Field. Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell believes he is a target.

Bell has skipped the team’s offseason program while he is in the middle of a contract dispute. He has received criticism for his absence and contract demands, and he responded by releasing a hip-hop song this weekend titled “Target.”

In the song, he addresses his contract dispute, being franchise-tagged two straight years, and critics calling him out of shape and referencing his 2016 drug suspension.

Bell was paid $12.12 million based on last year’s franchise tag and would make $14.5 million this year, barring a new contract. The deadline for a deal is July 16.

Last year, Bell ran for 1,291 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns while catching a personal-best 85 passes for 655 yards and two scores. He was third in the NFL in rushing and 10th in receptions.

— Injured Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is still not cleared to fully practice.

Verrett played just one game last year before his season abruptly ended with a knee injury. ESPN reported that Verrett cannot fully practice in the team’s organized team activities because he is recovering from last year’s knee surgery.

The Chargers still have plenty of cornerbacks competing, including starters Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward as well as Desmond King. In addition, Michael Davis, Craig Mager and Jeff Richards were on last year’s active roster or practice squad.

Verrett has played in just 25 career games — with 80 tackles and five interceptions — and has missed 39 games.

— Tom Brady skipped organized team activities last week, but he showed that his arm still has plenty of zip and accuracy — even if he was thousands of miles away.

The four-time Super Bowl MVP was featured in a promotional ad in conjunction with the Monaco Grand Prix, connecting on a yacht-to-boat pass with Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo. In a video posted by Red Bull Racing via Twitter on Sunday morning, Brady, standing on the deck of a massive yacht, fired a strike across the water that Ricciardo snatched out of the air.

The absence of Brady from the voluntary OTAs caused a stir in New England, since the three-time NFL MVP has been a frequent participant in the past. The 40-year-old did not publicly commit to playing the 2018 season until a promotional appearance on April 30 in Santa Monica, Calif.

Brady has two years left on his contract with the Patriots and is currently scheduled to earn a base salary of $14 million in 2018. He threw for a league-best 4,577 yards along with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season.

— Johnny Manziel had some uneven moments during training camp Saturday as he continued his bid to win the starting quarterback job with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Manziel, who signed with the Tiger-Cats earlier this month in the hopes of reviving his stagnant NFL career, is battling incumbent Jeremiah Masoli to be the starter.

The former Heisman Trophy winner, who last played at the end of 2015 with the Cleveland Browns, had some sharp moments during the practice, according to TSN.

Manziel completed 4 of 5 passes for 175 yards during team drills, including two 50-yarders and one 30-yarder one week after signing. However, he struggled during situational drills, finishing only 2 of 6 for 25 yards with an interception.

“It’s good, it’s fun. It’s intriguing, that’s the best thing I would say,” he told TSN.

— Not everyone can play for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, as San Francisco 49ers defensive end Cassius March discovered last season.

Marsh said he became so disillusioned with the so-called “Patriot Way” during his brief stint in New England that he considered walking away from the game, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it,” Marsh said to the newspaper. “There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying? It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.”

Marsh, who was claimed on waivers by the 49ers in November after his release by the Patriots, admitted that he “wanted to get waived” because of how he was being utilized by New England.

A pass-rushing defensive end who was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 NFL Draft, Marsh struggled mightily to adapt when the Patriots tried to shift hit to outside linebacker. The 49ers shifted Marsh back to an edge rusher and he responded with two sacks and a team-high two forced fumbles in a reserve role during the final six games last season.