“I know the guaranteed money will be there (in March),” Bell said of testing free agency next year. “If a team wanted to, they could definitely do what they needed to do to make me happy and satisfied.”
Bell plans to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye and be ready to play against the Browns in Week 8.
Bell explained that his decision to holdout is due in part to ensuring the health of his body.
“It sucks having to sit out football,” Bell said tells Fowler. “I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs.
“But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”
Bell says he’s still hopeful about spending the rest of his career with the Steelers.
“I could be naïve or hopeful, but at the end of the day I feel like that’s what’s going to happen,” Bell said about re-signing with the team. “I don’t think they really want me gone. That could be me being prideful. But I’m still holding out hope.”
The Steelers are still open to trading Bell if the right offer comes along, so it will be interesting to see if anyone is willing to part with a decent draft pick to rent him for the second half of the season.
Bell, 26, is a former second-round pick of the Steelers back in 2013. He played out the final year of his four-year, $4,120,600 rookie contract that included a $1,376,800 signing bonus and was in position to be one of the best players in the free agent market when he was franchised.
The Steelers used the franchise tag on Bell again this offseason, which means he stands to make $14.5 million fully guaranteed for the 2018 season before testing the open market as an unrestricted free agent next year.
In 2017, Bell has appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and rushed for 1, 291yards on 321 carries (4 YPC) to go along with 85 receptions for 655 yards receiving and 11 total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the No. 9 running back out of 58 qualifying players.