The Pittsburgh Steelers are no fans of holdouts. At least, not while they are holding out. The team and the players have had no problem embracing players once they have returned from holding out. But those who have chosen to do so have historically done themselves no favors, and that is a lesson that general manager Kevin Colbert reminded Le’Veon Bell yesterday.
“My feeling is there’s nothing to be gained by a holdout”, the long-time front office man told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The situation won’t change, it can’t really change from our part on a long-term deal”.
That much is obvious, of course. For players who were given the franchise tag, there was a deadline after which point a new deal for that season could not be reached. That deadline passed a while ago, so Bell choosing to hold out is not going to get himself any more money.
Additionally, the fact that he has not yet signed his franchise tag leaves himself vulnerable to the possibility that the Steelers could rescind the tag, as the Panthers did to Josh Norman last year. If Bell injures himself while working out on his own, Pittsburgh may do just that, and then he is left with nothing.
“It hurts him not to be here”, Colbert said of the running back’s absence. “It hurts him because he’s not working with his teammates, he’s not getting the conditioning work that he’s going to need to have a great 2017 season. And he’s not working with his teammates to get acclimated to the offense — every year it’s different”.
Ed Bouchette writes that the Steelers do believe that Bell will not hold out into the regular season. If he does, at that point, the team could begin fining him, which will come at one-seventeenth of the value of his franchise tag for every week that he misses. If it goes beyond Week 10, he will not be able to play this season at all.
“Really, a holdout does not benefit him in any way”, Colbert reiterated, “so, again, I hope that he sees the benefits of being here and comes in here sooner than later”. The Pro Bowl running back has already missed the first two weeks or so of training camp as they gear up for the first preseason game.
Of course, it’s not as though Bell would have been participating much on the field. Given his injury history, and his veteran status, he would have been given plenty of time to rest, and likely would only be expected to play very little in the third preseason game.
But as Colbert mentioned, there are a lot of things that he is missing, including being in the classroom and learning. He may be a fifth-year veteran, but he doesn’t know everything, and there are tweaks every year. Not that he is unfamiliar with being cut off from his teammates, as he has experienced that twice already during two separate suspensions.