The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Would you want to see the Steelers take a chance on welcoming Le’Veon Bell back into the locker room?
As you’ve surely read by now, the New York Jets are planning to release former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, just 21 games into his career with the team after signing a big four-year contract with them in free agency in 2019. He sat out the 2018 season after failing to come to terms on a long-term contract in Pittsburgh, where he spent the first five years of his career.
The Steelers felt good enough about their running back room this year that they actually kept four of them on the 53-man roster to start the season, something that they have not done in the past several years.
James Conner is the lead back, and is proving again to be just that, when he is healthy, with a couple of 100-yard games already under his belt and three consecutive games with a score. Benny Snell also has a 100-yard game, and has shifted toward short-yardage work now. Jaylen Samuels is being phased out on offense, but is a valued special teams contributor, and rookie Anthony McFarland, who offers a speed element, is just getting things going.
In terms of talent level, it would be hard to deny that Bell would at least be better for the team on the field than Samuels, though that would leave a hole on special teams. Maybe playing behind the Steelers’ line, he would look closer to his 2017 self as well.
But can anybody actually be confident to any degree that he would not develop into a problematic character in the locker room? Mike Tomlin referred to his and Antonio Brown’s departure as a cleansing last year. Things are going well right now, which would be an unusual time to choose to make this sort of move with a player who has walked away from one team, trashing them on the way out, and driven himself out of a second organization, subsequently celebrating his release.