Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell now has less than 72 hours to report and sign his franchise tag if he wants to play the remainder of this season and a report Saturday night indicates he will remain AWOL.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN Saturday night, Bell is unlikely to report to the team by Tuesday’s deadline, multiple league sources tell his media outlet.
Steelers’ running back Le'Veon Bell is unlikely to report to the team by Tuesday's deadline, which would make him ineligible to play the rest of this season, multiple league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 11, 2018
Bell reportedly returned to Pittsburgh from Miami this past week and since then he’s not only released a few cryptic messages in upside down text on Twitter, he’s also disassociated himself from the Steelers in a few of his social media account bios.
Steelers team president Art Rooney II said Thursday afternoon in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that while the team is unsure if Bell will ultimately report by Tuesdays deadline, they’re expecting him to do so.
“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Rooney II said. “We know he’s back in Pittsburgh and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”
Despite some speculation and reports to the contrary, the Steelers reportedly would like Bell to show up on Tuesday and play out the remainder of the season, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
More coming on this for tomorrow’s @NFLGameDay: Despite owner Art Rooney’s comments on RB Le’Veon Bell, the team is not expecting their star RB to play for them this season, sources say. They want him back. But the belief is Bell will stay away & await free agency.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 11, 2018
Bell would have earned $14.544 million this season had he signed his franchise tag by the start of the regular season. Every week that he has stayed away from the team has cost him just over $850,000.
Whether or not the Steelers will ultimately use the franchise or transition tag on Bell again during the offseason is still unknown. Additionally, there’s still no full clarity as what those tag amounts might be should he not report by Tuesday’s deadline.
With Bell AWOL so far this season the Steelers have relied mostly on second-year running back James Conner, who was selected in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. Conner has not disappointed as not only has he rushed 771 yards and 10 touchdowns through nine games played, he’s also caught 39 passes for another 387 yards and a touchdown.