The ongoing drama between Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers will soon be coming to an end, although with just one week to go until Bell’s deadline to report, it’s still not clear how this is all going to play out.
If Bell wants to play football in 2018, he has to report to the team by Nov. 13, and with just over one week to go until that deadline, Bell sent out a cryptic tweet on Monday that may or may not indicate that he’s now headed for Pittsburgh.
It’s tough to interpret two words, especially when one of them isn’t even a word (I think he meant farewell), but Bell seems to be indicating that he’s finally leaving Miami after spending the past few months training down in South Beach.
If he’s leaving Miami, does that mean he’s finally headed for Pittsburgh? Right now, that’s unclear.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on Sunday that Bell still hasn’t told the Steelers when or if he plans on reporting. However, Bell does have a deadline that’s written into the collective bargaining agreement: If he doesn’t sign his franchise tag by 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 13, then he won’t be eligible to play in the NFL this season. If that happens, he’ll miss out on his entire franchise tag salary of $14.5 million (He’s already lost more than half that after skipping the first nine weeks of the season).
The one thing working against Bell is that his popularity has tumbled in Pittsburgh over the past few weeks. Mike Tomlin seemed pretty tired of talking about the situation when he was asked about Bell on Sunday.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time focused on [Bell being gone] because it’s not within our control. Those decisions are Le’Veon’s,” Tomlin said, via ESPN.com. “We need volunteers, not hostages, so we’re focused on the guys who are here and working and James [Conner] is definitely in that mix.”
Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro also seemed pretty tired of talking about the situation.
“Honestly, no one cares anymore,” DeCastro said on Sunday, via NFL.com. “Why would I? I don’t want to waste the energy. I have to block some of the best players on the best defense in the world. Do you think I’m going to worry about a guy who’s not here?”
If Bell does return, it’s starting to feel like it could make for an awkward seven weeks in Pittsburgh. In his absence, Conner has been putting up huge numbers. Basically, Conner has been doing things that Bell has never done in his career and he’s been doing it for a Steelers offense that’s been thriving over the past few weeks.
The awkward part for Bell is that no one seems to be happy about his potential return. The players clearly don’t seem thrilled and if Twitter reaction is any indication, Steelers fans would rather have Conner.
The Steelers play on Thursday against the Panthers, so even if Bell reports this week, he definitely won’t be on the field against Carolina, which means his potential first game with the Steelers would come in Week 11 against the Jaguars. Coincidentally, that would be the same Jags team that Bell faced the last time he was on the field back in January.
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