2018 South Side Questions: Will Bell Start Another Game For Steelers?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Le’Veon Bell start another game for the Steelers?

Le’Veon Bell is looking out for himself. Every player does it, of course. But sometimes certain players go too far, and that’s what Bell’s teammates seem to think he did by essentially deceiving them and not reporting to the team yesterday in preparation for their season opener.

He has made it pretty clear through his inactions that his focus is on 2019 free agency, or at least that is what his teammates are saying right now. That means that he is less concerned about the Steelers’ 2018 goal of winning the Super Bowl. By the very act of not reporting, he is hurting their chances of winning the Super Bowl this year.

There are multiple ways in which we can see things play out that result in Bell never starting a game for the Steelers again, so I’ll outline them here.

  • He can simply hold out for the entire season. Bell has already accrued five seasons in the NFL. If he holds out the entire year, he forfeits the entirety of his franchise tag, but he also takes zero hits between now and when he signs a long-term contract, so it might be something he’s considering.
  • The team can take the pulse of the locker room, weigh the effectiveness of the running game without him, and reach a decision over the course of roughly the next two months of whether or not it might be worth their while to simply rescind the franchise tag.
  • Alternatively, they could attempt to pursue a trade for Bell, which would have to come before the mid-season trade deadline. The value for him would be low because it would be a partial-season rental with no possibility of signing a long-term deal this year.
  • He could show up but not be given his starting job back. This could either be disciplinary or as a result of the running game doing well without him and the Steelers electing not to interfere with something that’s working. They might not want to take a starting job away from James Conner if he is earning the right to start through his performance.
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