The Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le’Veon Bell were not able to come to an agreement on a contract extension prior to Monday’s deadline. This means the two sides cannot negotiate a long-term deal until the 2017 NFL season draws to a conclusion.
Though, Bell himself has not yet signed the exclusive rights franchise tag tender Pittsburgh handed him during the spring. Without any remaining leverage, it now looks like Bell might hold out from Steelers training camp until mid-to-late August.
Le'Veon Bell still has not signed his franchise tender, so he's not obligated to be at camp. May not see him until mid-to-late August.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 17, 2017
Once Bell ultimately signs the tender, he will earn $12.1 million this upcoming season. That’s the richest one-year contract for a running back in today’s NFL. But Bell is looking for a long-term commitment in terms of guaranteed cash. That’s obviously now out the window with Monday’s deadline passing.
For the Steelers’ part, they seem to think that Bell will be ready to go once camp starts.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell prior to today’s deadline,” General manager Kevin Colbert in a statement, via the team’s official website. “Le’Veon is scheduled to play this year under the Exclusive Franchise Tag designation. We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season.”
Bell, 25, is coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him put up an absurd 1,884 total yards in just 12 games. He was suspended for the first three games of the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. This has obviously complicated contract negotiations between the two sides.
Even if Bell were to sit out the start of camp, there’s no real reason to believe an extended holdout is in the cards. Once he sees daily fines for missing camp, Bell will likely report. After all, there’s nothing either side can do between now and the end of the season.