Rob Gronkowski will report to the Patriots for training camp, but don’t expect the same from Steelers star Le’Veon Bell. The running back’s tentative plan is to miss Steelers training camp but be ready for the regular season, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). While Bell is displeased over the team’s decision to not give him a suitable extension before the deadline, it would be a “shock” if he were to miss games and the Steelers expect him to play a full season, Fowler hears.
Of course, Bell still has time to consider all of his options. In theory, Bell could protect himself from injury by waiting to sign his tender until after the season has begun. But, by doing that, he would miss out on more than $900K for every game he doesn’t play and would risk the possibility – however slim – of the Steelers rescinding the tag. Bell would reach free agency in that scenario, but at a time when most of the league’s free agent dollars have dried up.
There’s also the possibility that Bell changes his mind, signs the tag quickly, and reports in time for training camp this month. But, right now, that seems about as unlikely as a regular season holdout. Last year, Bell took his time before signing the tag and still managed an incredibly productive season.
In 2017, Bell posted 1,946 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. His 4.0 yards per carry represented a drop from the 4.9 he’d averaged in 2015 and ’16, but that might have something to do with overuse. Last year, Bell led the league with 321 carries and had 406 touches overall.
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