How in the world did we get here? With a little over a week until the start of the 2018 season, rumors are flying that Le’Veon Bell may not sign his franchise tag until after the regular season starts. James Harrison was the first to suggest this in a television interview earlier this week. Harrison was quoted as saying………

Everybody is assuming he is coming back week one. He has a whole mess of money to loose versus what he’s going to loose per week. If I’m in his shoes, I come back with enough time to to get my credited season. And then I move on.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Bell is risking quite a bit by stepping on the field without a long-term contract. From his perspective, why not sit out until the point where he can still accrue a full season. He would only need to show up for the last six games in order to get his credited for a full year. To be fair, Bell has never said this was his plan directly. He did however, shoot down reports of his teammates saying he would be back on Monday. So we are still left to wonder when exactly the Steelers star player will report to the team.

Can we really put it past Le’Veon Bell to sit out regular season games? He has to be at least considering this scenario. Weighing the money he will loose by not showing up, versus the potential money he could loose in the future in case of a serious injury. Of course Bell could get injured at any time, but shaving ten games off his workload certainly lessens that risk. Even a full healthy season could affect his value. How many teams would be willing to give out boat loads of guaranteed money to a running back with the amount of touches Bell has had the last few seasons?

At this point there are no innocent parties in this mess. Bell’s contract demands have been clearly out of whack to what others at his position make. At the end of the day though, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers that have let things get to this point. If they knew full well they would never concede to Bell’s numbers, why is he still here? Why keep prolonging this soap opera to the bitter end? Kevin Colbert had to know this was a possible scenario, and if he didn’t shame on him. The Steelers should have traded Bell this offseason while they still had the chance. Even now, Bell would surely sign the tag if he knew he was being traded to a team willing to sign him long-term.

How exactly did the Steelers expect this all to play out? Are they really banking on the best case scenario where everybody walks away satisfied? A season where the team gets their Super Bowl, and Bell takes another great season into free agency to cash in. Or is it more likely we are in for a year filled with hold outs, injuries, distractions, and bad blood? We are all about to find out, one way or the other.