We may finally have our answer for when Le’Veon Bell will report to the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to a tweet sent out by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler moments ago, Bell is expected to show up during the team’s Week 7 bye.
Le'Veon Bell expects to report to the Steelers during the Week 7 bye, a source told @ESPN. Bell definitely plans to play football for the Steelers this season.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 1, 2018
That will give Bell an extra week to get in shape. Not to mention, a “free” paycheck after opting against millions by missing the first chunk of the season. He’s been losing $855,000 each week that he’s missed.
The Steelers, as was the case last year, will likely be granted a two week roster exemption for Bell’s return, giving them a 54 man group to work with over that span or until they activate him from the exempt list.
After seeing success in Week One, the Steelers’ run game has struggled since, though partially due to game circumstances of falling behind. When the Steelers locker room realized Bell wasn’t going to show up for Week One, as expected, players criticized the decision, though several attempted to walk back those comments in the coming days.
If the bye is when Bell reports, the first game he could play in will be the Week 8 matchup at home against the Cleveland Browns.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Steelers are still interesting in trading Bell.
Pittsburgh still is expected to be interested in listening to trade offers for RB Le'Veon Bell, per league sources. Bell now planning to report later this month would not dissuade the Steelers from making a deal that made sense.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 1, 2018
UPDATE (7:36 PM)
Fowler spoke to Bell by phone and updated his original story. Key note. Bell said that during negotiations over the summer, the Steelers said they would place the transition tag on Bell if he’s still here at the end of the season.
“The Steelers are exploring trade options for Bell, though Bell believes he can stay with the team. The Steelers told Bell during franchise tag negotiations that they would transition tag him in 2019, which would set the stage for Bell to negotiate with other teams while Pittsburgh holds his rights.”
What that tag amount would be is debatable. It’ll be centered around what is 120% of 2018’s salary. But with Bell forfeiting six game checks, the Steelers will argue the transition tag will be worth just $11.2 million, what the team actually paid Bell. Bell’s camp will argue it should be 120% of the $14.55 million franchise tag, early $17.5 million, and that the amount could be decided by an arbitrator.