The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be missing Le’Veon Bell more than they might ever want to admit, but there is still a chance they could see him return sooner than many predicted this season, if a report from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN proves to be accurate.
Le'Veon Bell expects to report to the Steelers during the Week 7 bye, a source told @ESPN. Bell definitely plans to play football for the Steelers this season.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 1, 2018
Choosing to return during the bye week would be a smart move for Bell in terms of maximizing his income without exposing himself to further risk of injury. Signing his franchise tag before the deadline for reporting in Week 7 would make him eligible for an extra week’s salary without having to play in a game. That being said, an additional week of preparation before seeing his first game action of the year would also make sense for a player who was looking less than game ready when pictured jet skiing in Miami.
With no corroboration from Bell or his agent at the time of writing to suggest this report is any more accurate than any of the other offseason scoops about his plans for 2018, fans can only hope this is not another false dawn.
Returning during the bye week would leave the Steelers facing the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals without their star running back, but would give them a chance to put Bell back on the field against the Cleveland Browns in Week 8. It is also worth noting that the deadline for trading Bell is October 30, and should he sign his franchise tag in Week 7, Pittsburgh would still have at least 10 days to finalize a trade.