Le'Veon Bell Rumors: 'No Expectation' RB Joins Steelers Before September 1

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell runs against the New England Patriots during an NFL football game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Antonio Brown wants to see Le'Veon Bell back on the field with his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates as soon as possible, but the wideout may not get his wish. 

For the second straight year, Bell has opted not to report to voluntary team workouts after being hit with the franchise tag. He did not report to the team until Sept. 1 last year, and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported the Pro Bowl running back could follow a similar path this year:

Brown told reporters on Wednesday that Bell should show up and workout with the team as he looks for a long-term contract:

No. 84 restructured his contract in March to help create cap room for Bell in 2018.

Given he has not signed the franchise tender, as was the case last summer too, Bell is technically not holding out. He is just a player who is not under contract, thus he has no obligation to report to the team.

Bell did not sign the franchise tender until about a week before the season kicked off. In 2017, he ran for 1,291 yards and added 655 receiving yards (both of which were the second-most in his career) while scoring 11 total touchdowns.

While the overall numbers were solid, they could have been even better had he not been limited early on, as pointed out by NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala:

Playing under the franchise tag for a second consecutive season would result in a $14.544 million salary in 2018. If no long-term deal is reached and Pittsburgh opts to franchise him again next year, Bell would be entitled to get paid 144 percent of his previous salary.

Bell made it clear to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler last July that he wants to be paid for everything he brings to the team: "I feel I should be valued as a player, not so much my position." 

Earlier this year, he revealed to Fowler that he would consider retiring rather than playing under the franchise tag for a second consecutive season: 

"Value me. Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I'm not going to settle for anything," Bell said. "I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at."

In other words, no hometown discount for the team that drafted him with the 48th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

Bell proved last year that he doesn't have to go through training camp and the preseason in order to be effective during the regular season. However, if the Steelers are going to bring home their seventh Lombardi trophy, getting Bell on the field as soon as possible would be helpful.

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