I know it sounds totally counter intuitive and on the surface, doesn’t make much sense. You can rightly say that about the entire Le’Veon Bell saga this year.
But it appears in Bell’s mind, sitting out guarantees he’ll remain in Pittsburgh. For the rest of this year, anyway.
Bell was reportedly to show up during the bye week. On paper, it made sense. Literally. Showing up meant getting paid for doing essentially nothing, collecting a bye week paycheck and then finishing out the season starting this week and Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Clearly, that didn’t happen. And we’re back at square one, not knowing when Bell will actually show up. It’s a pretty safe bet, and I get making any sort of guess is tricky, that he’s waiting until after October 30th’s trade deadline to report. Which means don’t count on him popping into the team facility this week.
Despite Bell’s unhappiness about, well…everything, he’s even basically admitted he doesn’t want to be dealt.
Sure, the idea of him hoping and wanting to stay in Pittsburgh long-term might just be a line. But for 2018? Why would he want to go anywhere else? Getting traded means playing in a new system, with a new coaching staff, and very likely in a worse offense and o-line. Not to mention his own internal obstacle of getting in shape and finding his groove once he does show up.
All that adds up to a player who isn’t likely to look like the best-back-in-football, dinging his already damaged contract value. So Bell is making the calculated, and in this specific case, I would argue smart, decision to keep on doing nothing.
If he signs the tag before the deadline, there’s a possibility that he will be traded. We already know Pittsburgh is at least open to the idea, given James Conner’s success. The largest obstacle – of many, mind you – was attempting to deal him before he voluntarily signed the tag. A literal impossibility, Bell can’t be traded unless he signs the tender, essentially giving him an NBA-like no trade clause.
Decide to sign the tag and you lose that ironclad veto. Bell would no longer has any control over if and where he gets traded. Agreeing on a deal is still difficult for a hundred other reasons, sure, but this was the big one. His ace in the hole.
It’s hard to be certain of much here. But that’s one aspect of this whole mess I’m confident in. Bell will wait until the deadline has passed, likely reporting very soon after, and play out the remainder of the season.
What happens after that? Now that’s anyone’s guess.