Running back Le’Veon Bell has been a Pittsburgh Steeler his entire career, but after contract disputes, his future in Pittsburgh is unlikely. Bell did not report to training camp, minicamp, or practice this entire preseason. He did the same thing last year because he didn’t have a contract in place. Bell played last season on the franchise tag, and many thought he’d play this year on it as well. The ball is in the Steelers corner now, because they can still rescind the tag and let Bell walk, or they can trade Bell for assets.
The emergence is second year running back James Conner has benefited the team, and management. The Steelers don’t seem obligated to sign Bell, because they have a running back whose cable of somewhat filling his role. Bell is a three time Pro Bowler and two time First-team All Pro player, so he isn’t easily replaceable. It seems that the Steelers don’t value the running back position as much as Bell values himself, which is where both sides come at odds. As the Steelers prepare to play the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, Bell still hasn’t reported to the team.
The NFL Season kicks off tonight with the Philadelphia Eagles playing the Atlanta Falcons, so the Bell is on the clock in Pittsburgh. If Bell doesn’t show before Sunday’s game then Conner will undoubtedly be the Steelers starting running back. Conner has been getting praise from nearly every offensive player on the Steelers roster, so they’re confident in his abilities. Bell turned down a $70 million dollar contract this offseason, which was the Steelers final offer to him. The $14 million he’d receive if he played on the franchise tag seems to not please him as well.
Nobody knows how much Bell believes he’s worth, but it seems to not be as much as the Steelers think he’s worth. If Bell left the Steelers today, then he could arguably be known as the best running back the Steelers ever had. On the flip side, Bell would experience scrutiny from a lot of Steelers fans, which doesn’t seem to bother Bell because he still hasn’t shown up. Bell is stern in his decision to not play on the franchise tag, so it’ll be interesting to see when Bell does show up, or if he ever shows up?
The Steelers still have a promising roster without Bell, but with Bell the Steelers is arguably the most effective offense in the league. NFL.com ranked the Steelers as the third best offense in the league last season, and that’s with Bell on the roster. Not having Bell on the roster could result in a more pass heavy offense, but with an aging Ben Roethlisberger at Quarterback, who knows how that will look? The future of the Steelers offensively is uncertain, but there is still hope with players like wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The Steelers drafting Conner last year, and drafting running back Jaylen Samuels this year makes you think that the Steelers predicted Bell’s departure before contract discussions with him dissolved this offseason. The Steelers seem to be going towards having a running back committee, which teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots excel with. The Steelers have a lot of options, so it’ll be fascinating to see what coaches and general manger Kevin Colbert do as a result of this entire debacle.