Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is obviously not present for the teams annual OTA practices for a second consecutive year as he’s yet to sign the franchise tag that was given to him several months ago. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s OTA practice, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was asked to comment on Bell’s absence again this year from the voluntary sessions and if he or the rest of his teammates perceive that as being an issue.
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“I don’t think so,” Brown said. “We all know Le’Veon is a competitor. He’s always highly-conditioned. We know he’s going to be taking care of his body and putting himself in high-condition. That’s one thing about Le’Veon that makes him special, he takes his game serious. There’s never a question of doubt about his game and if he’s physically ready. I know when he walks into the building, when he shows up, you know what you’re going to get: you’re gonna get a guy ready to take 400 to 500 carries, a guy who’s willing to run, to catch the ball, a guy who can do it all.”
That praise of Bell aside, Brown still believes that the running back should probably be handling his business a little bit differently when it comes to him working towards a new long-term contract.
“Well, the first rule of getting better is showing up,” Brown said. “You can’t make anything better without showing up. So I think if you show up, I think everyone will understand where you want to be. That you want to be here not just this year but for years to come. Come out here and show up, show you want to get better and show guys you’re serious.”
That’s certainly easy for Brown to say as he’s never dealt with the franchise tag before. Sure, Brown could have handled his contract negotiations differently than he ultimately did prior to him becoming the highest-paid wide receiver in the league last year but with that said, he was under contract with the Steelers at that time. Bell, on the other hand, isn’t currently under contract with the Steelers right now as he’s yet to sign his franchise tag.
In short, Brown is suggesting that Bell should go ahead and sign his $14.544 million franchise tag and attend OTAs with the rest of his teammates in hopes that the Steelers will ultimately give him a contract offer that matches his demands by the mid July deadline.
“Well, you know, he’s an individual, he’s a professional, he’s got to do what is professional for him and his family,” Brown said of Bell on Wednesday. “Obviously, I just know the way that works.”
We’ll find out by the middle of July whether or not Bell’s approach to dealing with the Steelers a second time around works.