Even though Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell said as far back as this past January that he would consider sitting out out the 2018 season, or even retiring, if the team made him play under the franchise tag a second consecutive year, a Monday tweet by him indicates his previous comments were merely a bluff.
On Monday, Bell tweeted the date of the Steelers first 2018 regular season game against the Cleveland Browns along with “I can’t wait!” in addition to the hashtag #JustBePatient.
Now that the Steelers have the 2018 NFL Draft and annual rookie minicamp behind them, they’re expected to start turning their attention back to Bell again when it comes to working on getting him signed to a long-term contract by this year’s July 16 deadline, which by the way is almost exactly two months away. Steelers general manger Kevin Colbert said as much during a recent radio interview.
“We’ll find out about the rookies and see how they look and what we hoped actually shows up in the mini camps and so forth that we can say, OK, this is what we look like for 2018 so maybe we can do some things to try to get Le’Veon signed to an extension,” Colbert said just a little more than a week ago. “It’s always been our goal, I believe it’s his goal and it’s just been something we both kind of put on the back burner until we get to this point moving forward.”
The Steelers 2018 OTA practices will begin on May 22 and barring Bell signing a new contract by then, he’s expected to miss all 10 seasons in addition to the team’s annual minicamp and it’s completely in his rights to do so being as he’s technically not under contract with the team as he’s yet to sign his franchise tender.
Should Bell ultimately not sign a new contract by the July deadline, you can count on him bypassing training camp and the preseason for a second consecutive year. Personally, I have had the belief that the Steelers and Bell will somehow find a way to strike a deal by the middle of July for some time now merely out of blind faith that both sides really do want to get one done this year.
It seems to be widely believed that Bell is wanting a new deal that will average $17 million a season while the Steelers are looking to get something done with him in the $14-$15 million per season range. Bell’s franchise tag amount this year is $14.544 million.