Week 2 of the 2018 NFL regular season will officially get underway on Tuesday and as of Monday evening, there’s still no word as to if Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will show up this week and sign his franchise tag tender.
With Bell already deciding to miss the Steelers regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns, the growing speculation now is that several more missed games will follow. On Sunday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora said on air that he’s heard from two different members of the Steelers organization and that both recently told him they don’t expect Bell to report and sign his franchise tag tender anytime soon.
“If we had sat here a week ago, I would’ve told you Steelers players and coaches are just assuming, and in some instances were actually told by Le’Veon Bell, ‘I’m coming back for the first week of practice, don’t worry about it.’ Well, he wasn’t there and now everybody’s worried about it,” La Canfora said Sunday on air. “Talking to Steelers officials last night, they’re basically viewing this now as an extended absence. If you’re sitting out to mitigate injury, you’re not just missing the Cleveland game, right, I mean, if this is the protect your paycheck.
“One person told me ‘four to six weeks,’ another person in the organization said, ‘Hey, I’m acting, I’m going to assume he’s not here until the trade deadline and maybe he comes back and plays the second half.’ Nobody knows, only he will ultimately decide. His agent doesn’t even know, but I can tell you, a lot was made of what came out of that locker room. Players felt betrayed, I’m told, because Bell had told them I’m coming back and then his agent, Adisa Bakari, went on a publicity tour and they’re like, ‘Is this just hype? Were you’re using us?’ Regardless, I’ve never seen comments like that about another man’s money in an NFL locker room.”
The Steelers offensive linemen certainly were vocal last week about Bell failing to report by Wednesday afternoon. Regardless, and based on the way second-year running back James Conner played in place of Bell on Sunday against the Browns, they probably could care less at this point about Bell and when he might ultimately show up this season to play.
To hear Adisa Bakari, Bell’s agent, talk last week during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, it certainly sounded like he was hinting that Bell would miss more than just a few games this season in an attempt to save some wear and tear on his body so that he can entire free agency in 2019 with a little less mileage on him than he had tallied during the 2017 season.
While some think that Bell might decide to sit out the entire 2018 regular season, I really don’t think that will be the case. The Steelers bye week this season is Week 7 and I think that would be an opportune time for Bell to show up and sign his franchise tag. He would then essentially have missed six games and then have two weeks to get himself back in football shape for the Steelers Week 8 home game against the Browns. That’s just speculation on my part, mind you, but it really makes the most sense when it comes to guessing when Bell will show up to play.