It’s been a long year of playing “Where’s Waldo” with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. First we thought he’d show up by the end of pre-season……..nope. Next we thought it be right after week one…….negative. Ok, he was for sure showing up during the bye week…….wrong again. The latest narrative is that Bell was waiting until after the trade deadline, ensuring that he couldn’t be traded. Ok here we are, trade deadline past, and yet still no Bell. So I say again, now what Le’Veon??
The only other “logical” explanation I can come up with is Bell is planning to show up some time this weekend. Knowing full well the team plans on using the two week exemption on him without pay, Bell is probably figuring why show up for a full week of practice. If that’s not the plan, all bets are off. He could be planning on waiting until the very last possible minute. The deadline for reporting is November 13th, after that players are not allowed to sign their franchise tag and miss the rest of the season. Again, with the Steelers having the ability to use the exemption on Bell, he would be looking at losing out on another four weeks of pay. Sounds crazy, but he and his agent have shown at this point they are not overly concerned with his 2018 salary.
And then of course there is the nuclear option we have to consider. Bell could in fact be considering sitting out the entire season. The only way this strategy works in his favor is if the Steelers do not intend on using the franchise tag again, making Bell an unrestricted free agent. That may not be the slam dunk he and others think it would be. Of course, no one wants to go through this scenario again next year. Keep in mind though, the tag would be for the exact same amount as it is this season. Not playing at all in 2018 keeps the franchise tag from going up another level to upwards of $20 million next year. One full season of Bell at $14 million would be an attractive trade asset for the Steelers. All things considered, this could be the best case scenario for Pittsburgh. They would regain leverage, and avoid all the distractions that would come with the return of Bell.
Whatever happens, we are no more than two weeks away from closure on the Le’Veon Bell saga for 2018. The November 13th deadline will put an end to this one way or the other. Having a player like Bell come back would be the best trade deadline acquisition any team could have made. We may have however, have to come to grips with the fact that he may not put a Steeler jersey on again this season. One thing we have learned is trying to anticipate Le’Veon Bell next move will be is an impossible exercise.