Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that neither Le’Veon Bell nor his agent has informed the Steelers of any plans to report to the team and Pittsburgh is instead operating as if he may not be a part of their 2018 season.
According to La Canfora, the Steelers remain “very open” to trading Bell “at the right price” and his comments about wanting to remain in Pittsburgh beyond this season have not changed that.
Source tells La Canfora that there’s a “very distinct possibility” Bell has already played his last game in Pittsburgh.
Should Bell report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye like he said he plans to do, La Canfora mentions that Pittsburgh will likely place him on the exempt list, as they would not be willing to pay Bell during the bye week. There are reportedly sum within the Steelers who would prefer to not play Bell in their Week 8 game to avoid injury after he has missed so much time, but no decision has been made about this.
As for the trade market for Bell, La Canfora says the Steelers are still monitoring what’s out there and they’re hoping more teams will show interest in the coming weeks.
Earlier in the week, Bell told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that he believes Jets, 49ers, Colts, Browns and Eagles would be among teams interested in him as a free agent next year.
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 have him featured in our Top 25 – 2019 NFL Free Agents list.