Pittsburgh is now the one trying to find a trade partner and resolve the situation for all parties involved.
According to Rapoport, the Steelers are looking for a second-round and a player in trade for Bell, but it remains to be seen if any team will be willing to meet that asking price for Bell, who is essentially just a rental player. Rapoport admits that it would be “extremely difficult but not impossible” for the Steelers to move Bell.
Anyone interested in trading for Bell and willing to part with draft compensation to get him would have to be willing to sign him to a big-money extension next year. However, they can’t negotiate with Bell until after the season.
Bell is currently holding out and there have been no updates regarding when he’ll report to the team. He has not been in communication with coaches or team officials and the Steelers are reportedly anticipating him having a lengthy absence.
Bell will have to report to the team by mid-November to gain an accrued year of service time towards free agency.
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.
We’ll have more regarding Bell as the news is available.