Pittsburgh Steelers fans are sick and tired of talking/hearing about Le’Veon Bell, but the reality of the situation is, regardless of fans’ thoughts on Bell, he can still help the team win football games.
James Conner has been a bright spot for the team during Bell’s absence, but the thought of a two-back system with Bell and Conner would be enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night.
The fact remains, no one knows when Bell will actually report to work. At this point, Bell has surrendered millions of dollars while waiting for his time to return, and Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Bell won’t be coming back to the 412 area code until the October 30th trade deadline has passed.
Despite the expectation that Le’Veon Bell would report back to Pittsburgh this week, the Steelers have not heard anything from the running back and still don’t know when he will return, sources tell ESPN.
There are some sources around the league who believe that because Bell does not want to be traded, he will wait until after the NFL’s Oct. 30 trade deadline to return to work.
The Steelers could not trade Bell until he signs his franchise tender, and if he waits to sign the tender after the deadline, Pittsburgh could not deal him.
The Steelers are not planning to trade Bell, but have not completely dismissed the idea either, based on how aggressively another team could pursue Bell.
Bell waiting until after the trade deadline makes sense for him, and would put him returning to the team prior to the Week 9 game vs. the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Schefter isn’t the only NFL insider who has a source on what is keeping Bell away. While Schefter cites the trade deadline, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer said it has more to do with the roster exemption the Steelers will request, and whether Bell will be paid for those two weeks.
Steelers and Bell’s rep finally talked late last week about terms of a two-week roster exemption, which both sides need to agree to before he rejoins team. Steelers at this point don’t want to pay him during exemption and obviously Bell wants to get paid— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) October 21, 2018
Needless to say, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wasn’t about to be outdone and spoke with Steelers president Art Rooney II, who suggests he expects Bell to be a member of the team going forward.
#Steelers owner Art Rooney II tells me, on franchised RB Le’Veon Bell: “I expect him to be a member of the team going forward.” My story: https://t.co/uHuCShGb1w— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 21, 2018
Mike Tomlin refuses to talk about Bell until he actually reports to work, but other members of the team, especially quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, have been vocal in their support of James Conner continuing to get repetitions even when No. 26 does come back to the team.
As with all the other numerous rumors which have circulated regarding Bell, fans would be wise to take this with a grain of salt. In the meantime, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes from this story and others surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they come off their bye-week.