Le’Veon Bell is finally coming back to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When July 15 passed and Le’Veon Bell had not yet signed a long-term deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, people were concerned. No one likes their best player playing on the franchise tag, especially when that player claims he will not play on the tag, period.
Bell made good on his word, at least to start. He skipped the Steelers’ mandatory minicamp. When the deadline went by without a deal, Le’Veon was publicly upset. After all, he is the best running back in the NFL. He felt he should get the contract he wanted.
Fans were dismayed. It got even worse when trade rumors began to circulate. Still, it wasn’t as bad as when the report came out that the Steelers had presented Bell with the opportunity to sign a five-year deal and he turned it down at the last second.
Steelers fans and players alike wanted Bell back in the worst way. That’s when the rumors started flying. Jeremy Fowler from ESPN wrote a report saying he could be back anytime after Week 3. Bell himself said he would not leave the Steelers unless they did not want him.
Finally, the sports world has a conclusive answer. When asked at what point he would show up, Bell responded. While it was just a date and an emoji, fans of the Steelers and the rest of the NFL barring the remaining three AFC North teams released a collective sigh.
The tweet seems to indicate that the prodigal son will come back on Sept. 1, the day after the last Steelers preseason game. He will come back to the team, not be fined or lose any of his $12.1 million in guaranteed money and not have to play in the preseason.
Why wait so long to sign the tender?
Rumors have flown that after negotiations fell through for a long-term deal, Bell decided to postpone signing his tender until after camp. This way, Bell could avoid injury. Others claimed that the preseason would help him avoid injury.
It appears as though the Steelers running back is not the kind of player that needs preseason reps to be successful. In 2016, Bell missed the first four games of the year. According to Pro Football Reference, he still averaged 100 yards a game on the ground and 50 yards a game in the air. He averaged .75 touchdowns per game, as well.
While the Steelers would have like Bell to show up earlier, he will still be playing this year. This is incredibly important because so much of the offense runs through him. The Steelers and their fans can finally take a breath.