The Steelers buses are on the road to Cleveland and RB Le’Veon Bell is not on them, I’m told. Bell will leave a $855K game check on the table and the wait is on. James Conner is their starter until Bell is back.
Only two things seem plausible in this standoff because of league rules involved with franchise tagged players. Either Bell reports and signs the franchise tag, or he continues to be AWOL. Because of the franchise tag, the Steelers and Bell canonot negotiate a long-term deal until after the season, even if he signs the franchise tag tender. It's also unlikely the Steelers would trade Bell if he signs the tender, because another team couldn't give him a long-term deal either (like the Bears did with Khalil Mack), because Bell would still be on the franchise tag. Why would another team trade for Bell unsure if he'll be there past this year? The team could pull the franchise tag, but that would instantly make Bell a free agent, which would essentially reward Bell for his holdout, giving him the freedom to negotiate a long-term deal with any team and potentially put him on the roster of one of the Steelers' AFC rivals this season. Ultimately, it appears Bell must decide whether he wants to play on the franchise tag again for a portion of this season or risk sitting out a full year, believing the open market will still pay him handsomely in the offseason.