As his holdout continues, Le’Veon Bell has responded to a concern about his future with the Steelers.
Without a long-term deal by the mid-July deadline, and without signing the franchise tag tender, Le’Veon Bell has stayed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers all offseason. Since he’s technically not under contract, the team can’t fine him and he loses nothing financially if he signs the tender and reports before Week 1.
Most recently, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported Bell will report to the Steelers shortly after the team’s upcoming third preseason game. The Steelers have been more outspoken than they typically are on contract matters regarding Bell’s situation lately, but he has not folded under that attempt at public pressure.
Steelers fans, and fantasy owners that have drafted him, surely want to see Bell return as soon as possible. A fan conveyed some concern about his future with the team on Twitter, and Bell responded.
The idea of the Steelers trading Bell is incredibly unrealistic, but it’s not completely out of the question. The Steelers could also rescind the franchise tender on Bell, as the Carolina Panthers did with cornerback Josh Norman last year, and let him hit the open market at this very late stage. But the Panthers rescinded their tag on Norman in April of 2016, so doing the same in August would surely be unprecedented. At this point, with Bell likely to sign his $12.1 million tender and report soon, the Steelers would be foolish to take the drastic step of rescinding the tender.
If a long-term deal looks unlikely again, Bell could be tagged and traded by the Steelers next spring or simply allowed to become an unrestricted free agent. But he is exercising the leverage he has this summer, while forcing a franchise that usually gets its way to look petty publicly.