While not overly surprising, there hasn’t been much talk about contract negotiations with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell as the team starts to wind down their second week of OTA practices. On Wednesday, however, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that it won’t be surprising if Bell fails to participate in any of the OTA or mediator minicamp practices this year.
Rapoport isn’t exactly breaking a lot of news with his latest report because even if Bell had already signed his franchise tag offer, he still likely wouldn’t be on the field practicing due to him still rehabbing from offseason groin surgery.
After the Steelers first OTA practice a week ago Tuesday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger let it be known that he wished Bell would at least show up for OTAs even though it was likely he couldn’t participate in the practices because of his health.
“I’m not worried about the chemistry, but I wish he’d be here just because he’s one of the pieces to our puzzle,” Roethlisberger said over a week ago about Bell not being present for the start of OTAs. “I know he can’t participate because I don’t think he’s 100 percent healthy, but it would be nice to see him here just in terms of the chemistry and learning and just being a part of this process. But obviously, it’s up to him.”
So, will Bell show up for the Steelers final week of OTAs? It’s really doubtful at this point and as for the team’s maditory minicamp, don’t hold your breath that he’ll be on hand to watch those practices, either.
As I have noted several times over the course of the last few months, the Steelers have until July 15 to get Bell signed to a new long-term contract being as they issued him the franchise tag earlier in the offseason. That tag amount of $12.12 million was likely the average yearly value starting point as far as negotiations go. According to Rapoport, the Steelers have already engaged in some negotiations with Bell and his agent Adisa Bakari.
Deadlines usually spur action so it will be a bit of a surprise if Bell has a new deal in place several days ahead of July 15. Even if that’s the case, there’s still currently no reason to think that Bell won’t be signed long-term by the time the deadline ends.
“For the Steelers and Bell, neither side seems particularly worried about it,” Rapoport reports.