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: Is Le’Veon Bell holding out into the regular season a realistic possibility?
I’m at a point with Le’Veon Bell at which I don’t really know what to believe anymore when it comes to the things that come out of his mouth. The only thing that I’m sure of is that he wants a lot of money, and I’m guessing that his baseline for a new contract is $15 million per season minimum.
Is he going to retire? I doubt it. But might he hold out into the regular season this year, after cutting a close in 2017 by reporting on the Monday before opening day? Maybe? I really don’t know, but I don’t feel like I can rule that out.
Bell is not exactly unaccustomed to missing games, though they have never come by choice before. He missed the first three games of his rookie season due to injury, then the playoff game of his second year for the same reason. He served a two-game suspension in year three before missing the final eight games plus the postseason due to injury. He was suspended for three games in 2016, and he has also sat two games as a coach’s decision for rest heading into the postseason.
One key factor to consider here is the fact that Bell is not under contract, so the team cannot discipline him via fines for holding out. I would assume that most are aware of this basic point from last season, when he missed all of training camp and the preseason.
The only discipline they can deliver is rescinding the franchise tag, but it’s virtually unimaginable that they would do that, even if he holds out into the regular season for a few games, as it would make Bell a free agent, able to sign with any team.
At the moment, the only thing that would prevent him from holding out at least until the start of the regular season is the two sides coming to terms on an extension by mid-July, in my opinion, which also seems unlikely. Now I find myself wondering if he will hold out even longer.