On Monday, running back Le'Veon Bell said goodbye to Miami. He reportedly won’t be saying hello to Pittsburgh this week.
Via Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, the Steelers do not expect the holdout tailback to report before Thursday night’s game against the Panthers.
If Bell doesn’t show up by next Tuesday, he can’t play at all in 2018. Which would create a different set of rights and responsibilities for 2019, as to both the Steelers and Bell.
ESPN seems to be having a dispute among themselves about Bell's status for 2019 if he doesn't show up. As PFT says, Bell's opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 hinges on fulfilling the minimum requirements of the second year of the franchise tag (i.e., by showing up before next Tuesday), forcing the Steelers to offer upwards of $25 million, if they choose to apply the franchise tag a third time in 2019. (The Steelers can still apply the transition tag in 2019, but we’ve already pointed out that this is an essentially meaningless option.) Bell can show up by Tuesday and force the Steelers to let him hit the market on day one of free agency (subject to the ultimately meaningless transition tag) or not show up by Tuesday and risk having the Steelers apply the franchise tag again next year, at $14.54 million. Some think the Steelers would do just that, as a precursor to trading Bell to a new team — and guiding him away from a team like the Ravens the story went on to say.