Winslow Townson/Associated Press
Nobody knows for sure if Le’Veon Bell will sign his franchise tender and report to the Pittsburgh Steelers ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, but the team is anticipating the three-time Pro Bowler showing up.
Steelers owner Art Rooney II discussed the situation at hand Thursday with SiriusXM NFL Radio:
SiriusXM NFL Radio @SiriusXMNFL
.@steelers Owner Art Rooney II on Le’Veon Bell and his contract situation…
“We’re in uncharted territory here”
*LISTEN HERE* https://t.co/DJQK42ZgGU
“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Rooney 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.”
The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported Tuesday there is a “real possibility” Bell won’t sign his franchise tender. If he does not sign it by Nov. 13, ahead of Week 11, he will not be eligible to play for the rest of the season.
Per Kaboly, whether Bell plays at all this year or not, Pittsburgh would have to pay the running back the average of the top five salaries in the NFL if they franchised him next summer, marking the third consecutive year in which it would have done so.
On Wednesday, Bell had a message for his critics, telling them he was “not apologizing” for taking a stand:
Le’Veon Bell @LeVeonBell
ʇuıod ʎɯ pǝʌoɹd ǝʌ’noʎ ‘buıʎɐs ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇno ǝɹnbıɟ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ buıpuıɟ ʎןןɐǝɹ ǝɹ’noʎ ɟı osןɐ˙˙˙poıɹǝd ‘sɹǝǝd ʎɯ ɟo ʇsǝɹ ǝɥʇ puɐ ‘ʎןıɯɐɟ ‘ɟןǝsʎɯ ɹoɟ ʇɥbıɹ sı ǝʌǝıןǝq ı ʇɐɥʍ ɹoɟ buızıboןodɐ ʇou ɯ’ı
Le’Veon Bell @LeVeonBell
˙˙˙ɯǝɥʇ uo ʎןɹɐǝןɔ s’ʇɐɥʇ &˙˙˙sǝuıן ǝɥʇ uǝǝʍʇǝq pɐǝɹ ʎןdɯıs ʇsnظ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ ǝʞɐʇ ʇ’uop ǝןdoǝd ʇsoɯ ʇnq˙˙˙op p’noʎ ʇɐɥʍ ʇ’usı sıɥʇ ǝqʎɐɯ ǝsnɐɔǝq suoısıɔǝp ʎɯ ɟɟo ǝɯ ǝbpnظ ʇ’uop˙˙˙buıop ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇnoqɐ pǝıɹɹoʍ & ǝɟıן ʎɯ uo uoıuıdo uɐ sɐɥ ʎpoqʎɹǝʌǝ ʇnoqɐ ʇsnظ
Sports Illustrated @SInow
Here are Le’Veon Bell’s latest tweets, right side up https://t.co/x2mKEFhayC
Bell has been seeking a long-term deal with the Steelers in each of the past two years. However, the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on his value.
On a related note, Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley helped set Bell’s market by signing a four-year, $60 million extension. And yeah, Bell took notice:
The 26-year-old told Fowler back in January that he wasn’t afraid to sit out the entire 2018 campaign or even retire if he could not reach a long-term deal during the offseason, noting his bank account is already plenty full.
Bell has been protecting his long-term future by sitting out the first half of the season. However, he now has a major decision to make, with question marks still surrounding his contract status heading into next offseason.