It looks like Le’Veon Bell’s holdout might include some regular-season games. Or at least one.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started their team meeting on Wednesday at 9 a.m., and Bell was not in attendance at the start according to Ian Rapoport and Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network. Wednesday is when teams start the bulk of their preparation for a game on Sunday.
While there are many scenarios that could still play out before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, from Bell showing up just before the 4 p.m. Saturday deadline to report in order to be eligible to play this week. to him wandering in at some point in between — or possibly sitting out well beyond this week — it seems by not showing up Wednesday he’s sending a message that he doesn’t intend to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
When will Le’Veon Bell report?
Bell is on his second straight franchise tag, after the Steelers and Bell couldn’t work out a long-term deal yet again. Considering this is his second year of frustration with the Steelers not paying him what he thinks he’s worth, it’s not a huge surprise that his holdout is a little more complicated than last year.
Last year Bell showed up more than a week before the Steelers’ season opener. He arrived on Friday, took his physical and was good to go on Monday of game week. It wasn’t ideal for him to not be around for preseason but he didn’t make it tough on the Steelers. Then the Steelers gave him the most touches in the league last season.
This season won’t be as easy. The Steelers put out a fairly testy statement on Monday when their player, who doesn’t have a signed contract with them, didn’t show up. They’re not going to be any happier on Wednesday morning.
Bell might not play Week 1
Bell, unlike last year when he avoided all confrontation with the team by reporting nine days before the opener and was then asked to take on a league-leading amount of carries and receptions, is going to put the Steelers in a tough spot.
If he shows up right before the Saturday deadline to sign and play Sunday, it’s very unlikely the Steelers would play him less than 24 hours after he signed. That means he’d be inactive for a week but still get paid, and maybe save a little bit of wear and tear on his legs. That has to be a concern for him after 431 touches last season, including playoffs. James Conner could start against the Browns and take some of that mileage on his tires.
The Steelers got off easy last year. They got every bit out of Bell that they wanted, then didn’t pay him what he wanted yet again this offseason. Bell seems to be making things a little more uncomfortable this time around.
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