While the Steelers have prevented running back Le’Veon Bell from reaching free agency, it doesn’t appear they’ll be able to keep their other unsigned players from hitting the open market. The club isn’t close to re-signing any of its free agents-to-be as March 9 approaches, two sources told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Steelers’ list of unrestricted players includes linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones, running back DeAngelo Williams, quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Markus Wheaton, among others. Pittsburgh began talks with Timmons in February, but it will be a challenge to stop the productive defender and careerlong Steeler from heading elsewhere for his 11th NFL season.
“Would you like to have him stay? Absolutely,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in regards to Timmons last month. “Does it all fit? We can make it work, but at what cost? He’s never been a free agent. I’d like to see him finish his career here and he would too.”
Although Jarvis Jones has disappointed since going in the first round of the 2013 draft, having totaled only six sacks in 50 appearances, he’s likely to encounter a favorable market, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
As is the case with Timmons, Colbert has indicated he’d like to have Landry Jones stick around, though it might behoove the four-year veteran to look for a clearer path to playing time someplace else. Jones appeared in a combined 15 games the past two seasons, but barring retirement, Ben Roethlisberger is entrenched as the Steelers’ starting signal-caller.
As for Bell, the Steelers aren’t in any rush to start talks on a long-term deal with the franchise-tagged running back, per Dulac. That runs contrary to a Thursday report from NFL.com’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, who relayed that the two sides are “heavy into negotiations.” The Steelers have until July 15 to lock up Bell.
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