Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that the “tentative” plan for Steelers franchise RB Le’Veon Bell is for him to skip training camp, but return in time for the start of the regular season.
According to Fowler, holding out into the season and missing games “would be a shock.” Fowler adds that the Steelers also expect him to play a full season.
The deadline came and went without the two parties striking a deal, which means Bell will likely be entering his final year with the Steelers.
Ian Rapoport reported yesterday that the Steelers’ final offer to Bell was a five-year contract worth $70 million and included $30 million paid out in the first two years of the agreement. Rapoport adds that the Steelers’ offer to Bell last year was a five-year, $60 million offer, so they improved the contract by around $10 million.
Instead, Bell opted to play out the 2018 season under the franchise tag, which will pay him $14.5 million guaranteed.
Bell and his agent have made it clear that 2018 is likely to be his final season in Pittsburgh.
“His intention was to retire as a Steeler,” Bakari told Adam Schefter. “But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.
“It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player.”
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 has him rated as the No. 9 running back out of 58 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 25 – 2019 NFL Free Agents list.