Home Football Le’Veon Bell’s not at Pittsburgh Steelers camp … so what now? –...

Le’Veon Bell’s not at Pittsburgh Steelers camp … so what now? – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog


LATROBE, Pa. — Center Maurkice Pouncey tried to make light of Le’Veon Bell‘s situation Thursday by offering him a year of his contract, then saying Bell should report “so you guys don’t have to ask the same questions every day.”

But Bell’s absence as the Pittsburgh Steelers reported for training camp Thursday was a bit unsettling, as if the team has to move on from Bell while preparing to play with him, someday.

Bell has yet to sign his $12.12 million franchise tender and, as a result, is not subject to fines for his no-show.

Here’s what we know about Bell’s situation, and what’s next.

  • Some teammates, though they understand the business side, aren’t thrilled that Bell is missing time and believe he should be here in good faith. Others are OK with it and expected the absence because they realize Bell doesn’t want to risk injury.

  • Antonio Brown is especially not thrilled, believing this is a special team and “we need all of our guys here,” he told reporters after pulling up in a 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

  • The Steelers think Bell can have an MVP-type season — guard Ramon Foster mentioned that Thursday — but are prepared to go without him temporarily if necessary. This is a telling quote from guard David DeCastro, who is one of Bell’s biggest supporters: “The biggest thing with football, no matter who you are, this thing moves on without you.”

  • It appears this has been Bell’s plan all along, with the player telling ESPN last week that he needs only a few practices and maybe one preseason game to be ready. This hints at a mid-to-late-August return, in time for the third preseason game Aug. 26 against the Indianapolis Colts. The third game is when the first-team offense plays much of the first half. Chiefs safety Eric Berry followed the late-August plan after waiting to sign his franchise tender, then having a big year. He’s now on a six-year, $78 million extension.

  • Some with the Steelers believe Bell made a mistake by not taking the team’s long-term offer since a multitude of factors, including injury or free agency, could take Bell out of Pittsburgh for his prime years.

  • Bell believes he’s the kind of elite running back/receiver combo that exceeds the traditional running back market, which is the crux of all this. And he’s probably right, though future money isn’t guaranteed to reflect that thought.

  • Coach Mike Tomlin is a big Bell supporter and has been in communication with the player. He believes Bell stays in shape all year so that’s not the issue. The issues are rust and the lack of team-building, which he believes are important factors, as do some of the players.

  • Bell isn’t afraid of potentially leaving long-term money on the table if he gets hurt because, as he told ESPN last week, he’s never had money all his life until now, and he’s never seen anything close to $12.1 million. He’s cool with waiting.

  • Despite all these things, here’s the good news for the Steelers: Bell doesn’t plan to miss a down in 2017 and will probably be the same dominant player as last year barring injury.

Then, perhaps next year’s camp will strike a far different tone.

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