Le’Veon Bell is unlikely to report to the Steelers before Tuesday’s deadline and as a result will not play in 2018, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter writes that “even as the Steelers now brace to lose their marquee running back for the entire year, Bell’s camp continues to maintain its cone of silence” and has not informed the Steelers one way or another what his intentions are.
That being said, Schefter writes “there are no indications that Bell will report by the deadline”, and that “the belief” is that Bell’s Steelers career is “unofficially over.” With this news, it sounds like the saga surrounding Bell is over and the football world finally has its answer. The question of when Bell would show up became the biggest story in the NFL in 2018, and has dominated headlines all season long.
Confirmation of Schefter’s report came soon after from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who tweeted “the team is not expecting their star RB to play for them this season” and that “the belief is Bell will stay away & await free agency.” Many assumed Bell would end his holdout and return to the team once the season started, but with each passing week it became more and more clear how serious Bell was about not playing under the franchise tag.
In Bell’s absence, Steelers running back James Conner has emerged and developed into one of the league’s top backs. With it safe to assume the Steelers won’t pursue Bell in free agency, the question now becomes where Bell will land in 2019. Teams like the Buccaneers and Jets have been frequently brought up in discussions, and should be considered two of the likeliest possible destinations. Bell will likely be seeking a deal greater than the one Todd Gurley got from the Rams, which gave him roughly $60MM over four years.
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