Le'Veon Bell's Locker Cleaned Out by Steelers Players After Franchise Deadline

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) plays in an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Nobody can say Le'Veon Bell didn't contribute a thing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.

Bell failed to report to the Steelers to sign his one-year franchise tender by Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, ruling him ineligible to play this season. His teammates wasted little time going through whatever he left in his locker.

Ed Bouchette @EdBouchette

Steelers players removed Le’Veon Bell’s name over his locker and are now plundering it, dividing up his many football shoes and other stuff

Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN

Steelers players went into Le’Veon Bell’s locker, removing his nameplate and rummaging through items. Bud Dupree says thanks for the Jordan brand cleats. https://t.co/gQaAu9hUPd

Steelers players showed no mercy toward their likely former teammate, continuing what has been an acrimonious divorce between Bell and the team.

Once Bell's holdout carried over to the start of the regular season, Steelers offensive linemen David DeCastro, Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey didn't react kindly. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he texted Bell ahead of Tuesday's deadline but didn't receive a response, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

NFL.com's Dave Dameshek wondered if Wednesday's stunt will end up backfiring on the Steelers:

Dave Dameshek @Dameshek

If Bell has a chip on his shoulder - and just about every professional athlete has a chip on his shoulder - this is the sort of thing that could make him (even more) anxious to play for the Ravens so he can plunder the Steelers twice annually. https://t.co/odZ32CfBt9

Even though he forfeited $14.5 million in potential earnings by skipping Tuesday's deadline, Bell should recoup more than enough to replace whatever he wound up "donating."

Sporting News' Jason Fitzgerald estimated Bell could command a four-year, $53 million deal with $31 million guaranteed on the open market.

It's one thing for Steelers players to rummage through Bell's gear to look for anything that might be usable. Taking his name off the locker is far bigger from a symbolic perspective. That would seemingly indicate nobody inside the Steelers locker room intends to see him return in the offseason.

If Pittsburgh wanted to take the pettiness to the next level, James Conner would be moving into Bell's old locker.