Earlier this afternoon, Le’Veon Bell made a brief comment/dig after failing to get a long-term deal done with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, he’s made his first formal comments, talking to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler about the negotiation impasse and his future with the team.
With a deal not getting done, the most immediate question becomes when Bell will decide to show up to training camp. He is allowed to sign the tender whenever he wants to without any punishment from the team. Many have speculated Bell will wait until well into August to finally sign, similar to Eric Berry last season. Bell told Fowler he hadn’t given a reporting date any thought. He did note, however, he doesn’t need much time to get ready.
“The way I train, all it’s going to take for me is a few practices and some game action,” he told Fowler, who grabbed some awesome quotes from Bell. “I haven’t thought about it that far. I’m game-planning today. I was thinking the deal would be done. I’m going to take it day-to-day and see what happens.”
Bell told Fowler entering the day, he was hopeful an extension would get done but didn’t believe what the Steelers’ ultimately offered matched his value. He went on to say he was optimistic a deal will get done after the year, stating he wants to remain a Steeler, but in the same breath, said today was a “big eye opener.”
The Steelers will still have the option to retain Bell with the franchise tag next year, worth $14.4 million. But that’s far from an ideal option for either side. To use the Berry story again, he threatened to hold out and never sign his tender after getting tagged this past winter; the Kansas City Chiefs worked out a long-term deal with him shortly after.
His future is obviously unclear, both in the short-term – when he’ll report – and his long-term future with the team. But once he does report, the “next year” stuff can be thought about exactly then – next year. For now, it’s about the Steelers’ offense having its best ever group on paper and translating that into sustainable success and ultimately, a Super Bowl run.