The Pittsburgh Steelers have faced countless deadlines with Le’Veon Bell this season, but none have been as significant as the one the running back let pass on Tuesday at 4 p.m ET. By opting not to sign his franchise tag before this final league imposed deadline, Bell is now barred from playing at all in 2018, as per the rules of the CBA.
Statement from GM Kevin Colbert on RB Le’Veon Bell:— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 13, 2018
"I want to confirm that Le’Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender today and, as a result, he will not be eligible to play football during the 2018 season."
His decision will save Pittsburgh the reminder of the outstanding salary he would have been due over the final seven weeks of the season and he has now forfeited a total of $14.544 million. Money that the Steelers will be able to rollover into 2019 to spend on players who actually want to be in Pittsburgh.
When Bell returned to the city last week, it had been assumed that his relocation from Miami was a precursor to him reporting to team facilities to sign his franchise tag. However, it would seem the running back has had yet another change of heart and is happy to turn his back on his teammates altogether this year. With the cost of a third franchise tag now expected to be in the region of $25 million or more next season, it appears Bell has finally realized he does not need to report this year to be assured the Steelers will not tag him again.
Given how well James Conner has played over the first 10 weeks, some might suggest it should have been obvious to this strip-club aficionado that the front office had no intention of going through this fiasco again in 2019, but very little about this saga has made any sense.
While the team has dealt admirably with the distractions associated with their former star running back, Steeler Nation has not always managed it so well. With Bell a keen user of social media to manipulate the conversation about his plans for the season, his economical use of the truth has destroyed his relationship with much of the team’s fan base.
to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let youu down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date...— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 16, 2018
If Bell can secure a contract that will pay him around $30 million in year one to make up for the money he walked away from this season, opting to sit out the entire year will have been financially worth it. Anything less and this decision will have been a failure.
[sarcasm font]Luckily for Bell, he has a blossoming career as a rapper that could make up for any financial short falls from football.[end sarcasm]