PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The $14.5 million decision is made.
Pittsburgh Steelers All Pro running back Le’Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender with the team by Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. deadline. Therefore, he’s ineligible to play in 2018 and will forego the $14.45 million he was slated to make under the franchise tag.
Last season, en route to his third Pro Bowl selection, Bell led all AFC players with 1,946 yards from scrimmage. He also scored nine rushing touchdowns.
“I have no reaction,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, a Hampton native, said prior to Tuesday’s deadline. “I’ve told you guys and I’ve told you guys consistently, a reaction comes from me if and when he walks in the door. Until that happens, I’m business as usual, focused on those who are here and working, and appropriately so. That way I don’t waste my time and theirs.”
And what if Bell never walks in the door? “So be it,” said Tomlin.
Since entering the NFL as the team’s second round draft selection in 2013, Bell has started all 62 of his regular-season games played and four postseason contests. In Steelers history, Bell ranks fourth in rushing yards (5,336) and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns (35).
James Conner, Bell’s replacement in the Steel City, has been incredible so far this season. Serving as Bell’s replacement, Conner has 771 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 164 carries. His yardage and touchdown total currently rank third in the NFL.