Le'Veon Bell Reportedly Told Teammates He Will Report to Steelers on Labor Day

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2018

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell informed some teammates he plans on rejoining the team on Labor Day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reported Tuesday.

However, Bell denied the claim:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

don’t believe the fake news, I never said anything to no one...

The Steelers begin the 2018 NFL regular season Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Browns.

After Pittsburgh used the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, Bell has been holding out for a long-term extension. He's set to earn $14.5 million guaranteed before becoming a free agent once again next offseason.

Bell appeared to refute Dulac's report:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

don’t believe the fake news, I never said anything to no one...

Assuming he practices next Monday, Bell would be following the same plan he used a season ago. He held out the entire offseason, skipping training camp and the preseason before returning to practice on Sept. 4, six days before Pittsburgh's 21-18 season-opening victory over Cleveland.

The threat of Bell continuing his holdout into the regular season could be very real, though.

Speaking with Ross Tucker on SiriusXM NFL Radio, ESPN's Adam Schefter speculated Bell could be out for as many as eight games. Schefter said staying healthy ahead of the 2019 free-agency period would be Bell's top priority at that point.

Schefter elaborated further on Bell's situation during an appearance on ESPN morning show Get Up!:

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported in July that Bell turned down $70 million over five years from the Steelers. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the three-time Pro Bowler is looking to receive a contract that averages $17 million annually.

Excluding Bell's one-year franchise tender, Todd Gurley is the highest-paid running back in terms of average salary. His four-year extension with the Los Angeles Rams nets him $14.4 million a year, per Spotrac.