Le’Veon Bell, under his second straight franchise tag from the Pittsburgh Steelers, vowed that he wouldn’t be at practice on Labor Day this year. And now, with Labor Day here, it appears Bell wasn’t bluffing. The Steelers have released a statement about Bell’s absence that leaves little doubt about the team’s frustration.
‘Disappointed’ Steelers are moving on with game prep
“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a Monday morning statement. “Coach [Mike] 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.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 3, 2018
Bell held out of camp last year, returning on Labor Day 2017 in time to prep for Cleveland. He carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards, and caught another 15 yards’ worth of passes. Granted, Bell could show up two minutes before kickoff in flip-flops and probably rip off a couple decent runs against Cleveland, but that’s not a theory anyone wants to test.
Who knows? There’s plenty still up in the air. Bell could show up on Wednesday and render this all moot. Or he could go big and sit out longer and longer.
If Bell decides to hold out into the regular season, he’ll be forfeiting $855,000 per game. The Steelers will have the opportunity to use a roster exemption slot for him for two weeks, and if Bell does show up, he’d need to renegotiate his salary for those two games. In poker terms, everyone’s checking, waiting for someone to lay down a bet … and clearly, both Bell and the Steelers think they’ve got the better hand.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Broncos cut QB they thought would lead franchise
• Gruden makes his case for Raiders’ shocking trade
• Nick Saban apologizes for postgame conduct
• MLB postseason picture takes shape