2018 Offseason Questions: Does Bell’s Tardiness Make A Difference?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Was Le’Veon Bell’s ‘tardiness’ to the team’s final practice that big of a deal?

An article written by Ed Bouchette really caught the attention of many yesterday, or at least a couple of lines did. One of the choice bits that was seized upon centered around the Steelers’ All-Pro running back, Le’Veon Bell, who may or may not have played his last game with the team.

Bouchette notes that the running back missed the vast majority of the team’s walkthrough practice on Saturday prior to the team’s game the following day. He also noted that Bell did not show up in the locker room two hours prior to the game, when Mike Tomlin prefers that people report, but there is no indication that this is in any way a rule or a policy rather than a simple preference.

The running back has certainly strained his relationship with many members of Steeler Nation, but there are just as many—probably more—who are ready to throw any amount of money at him that he wants to keep him around.

Personally, not showing up two hours for the game, given that it is not a rule, doesn’t particularly bother me very much. As long as he wasn’t smoking before the game, because, you know, we’ve been down that road. Not being present for the practice is a bit of an issue, though still not catastrophic for a walkthrough.

Still, the team is going to have to weigh all available information, including things like these nuggets divulged by Bouchette, as they determine how they want to approach their future relationship with the most productive player in the NFL since 2013, when he was drafted.

Many anticipate that they will slap down a $15 million franchise tag on him and ride him for one more season before he leaves in free agency. That may be how things go. But it’s still a possibility that he could be allowed to walk this year. Or, in the most unlikely scenario, in my opinion, a long-term deal could be reached.

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