Le'Veon Bell, Steelers Reportedly Make Progress Amid Contract Holdout

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and running back Le'Veon Bell reportedly remain in active talks about a long-term contract extension ahead of the July 16 deadline for players who received the franchise tag to sign a new deal before the 2018 NFL season.

On Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the sides have made "some progress," but it's unclear whether they'll come to terms before Monday at 4 p.m. ET.

Bell and the Steelers went through the same process one year ago and couldn't finalize an extension.

The Michigan State product ended up holding out for the entirety of training camp and the preseason before signing the one-year franchise tender six days before the start of the regular season.

His extended absence from the organization didn't have a major impact on his production. He tallied 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns across 15 appearances in 2017. His 1,946 yards from scrimmage were second in the NFL to the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley (2,093).

Bell could be headed toward a similar path this summer.

In March, the 26-year-old Ohio native told Andrew Unterberger of Billboard he was "definitely" hoping to get a deal done but he'd wait until the deadline to decide how to move forward.

"But obviously, when the end of July comes, wherever we're at... if I sign, everybody'll be happy, but if not, I guess I gotta play it by ear," Bell said. "If I'll be out till Week 1, if I'll be out till Week 10, or if I'm gonna be out there at all. It depends on how I feel at that time and moment."

James Conner figures to handle most of the backfield work with the Steelers' first-team offense if there's no extension and Bell opts for another holdout. Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint would also compete for carries throughout camp.

That said, it'd be a surprise if Bell wasn't out there when Pittsburgh opens the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 9.