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.
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:
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.