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Le’Veon Bell a no-show as Steelers begin Week 1 preparations for Browns

September 4, 2018

Le’Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise running back who held out for all of camp and the preseason for the second consecutive year, didn’t report to work Monday, as he did a year ago.

And the Steelers are understandably peeved.

“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates,” GM Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. “Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.”

Bell, 26, is set to earn $14.54 million while playing under the tag — most in the NFL among backs — but he’ll begin losing $855,000 (one-seventeenth of his salary) soon. He’s already missed his opportunity to sign a long-term deal with the Steelers before next offseason.

Is Bell holding out hope for a possible eleventh-hour trade similar to the Khalil Mack deal that rocked the NFL world this weekend and a subsequent multi-year, record-breaking deal from his new club?

Bell probably shouldn’t hold his breath.

Mack had never missed a game in his first four seasons, while Bell has missed time with a drug suspension and torn ACL, not to mention repeatedly butting heads with his employer along the way and serving multiple suspensions since 2016.

Is Bell arguably the league’s best player at his position? Absolutely. But his position isn’t pass rusher, which Bears GM Ryan Pace said Sunday was one of two (along with quarterback) that made the Bears acting so aggressively an “easy” decision.

Bell’s best bet probably remains showing up to the Steelers as soon as possible to get ready for the Browns. Remember, though, he wasn’t his usual sure bet to begin last season following his holdout, when he managed only 3.2 yards per carry in the first two games before rounding into All-Pro form.

The Steelers certainly remember.

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