Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to sign the franchise tag tender the team placed on him back in March. Said tender would pay Bell $12.1 million this upcoming season. In turn, that would make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
Though, there’s been concern for some time now that Bell himself would refrain from signing the tender in order to leverage his way into a long-term deal.
Now, heading into the meat of off-season workouts, it looks like Bell himself won’t be on the field any time soon.
“For the Steelers and Bell, neither side seems particularly worried about it. Pittsburgh clearly prioritizes him, and though there hasn’t been an update for some time, it has engaged in some negotiations with him,” NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday. “Bell surely will want to be the highest-paid back on a long-term deal, though he already set to make $12.1 million on a one-year tag.”
This was part of a larger report indicating that neither Bell nor San Diego Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram, both of whom have yet to sign their franchise tenders, are expected to take part in off-season activities any time soon.
While the NFL insider did indicate that there’s no real worry on either side, Bell himself did send out a cryptic tweet earlier in the offseason suggesting he might be unhappy.
The issue here for Bell is that he has no long-term commitment from the Steelers. Coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him put up 1,884 total yards in just 12 games, the former second-round pick surely wants said commitment.
Then again, he was suspended for three games due to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Another suspension would likely result in a 10-game ban. That’s likely the biggest hold up between the two sides.
This is most definitely something to keep an eye on between now and the start of camp. While Bell will likely be on the field, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him leverage the Steelers into a long-term deal. If not, things could get chippy.