If the Steelers hadn’t moved on from Le’Veon Bell already, they certainly have now.
The disgruntled running back failed to report to the team to sign his franchise tag by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, the Steelers confirmed, meaning he is ineligible to play the remainder of the season for Pittsburgh or any other franchise.
Statement from GM Kevin Colbert on RB Le’Veon Bell:
“I want to confirm that Le’Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender today and, as a result, he will not be eligible to play football during the 2018 season.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 13, 2018
By not signing the $14.5 million tender, his second in two years, Bell will not accrue an NFL season and is expected to end his tenure with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Steelers were optimistic Bell would rejoin the team after he left Miami last week and was spotted working out in Pittsburgh a few days later, though there reportedly were no discussions between the two sides.
Bell’s holdout and lack of communication has worn thin with players and officials in the organization. While addressing the media earlier Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin spoke about how unusual it is for a player to ignore the efforts of his coach to reach out but acknowledged, “I understand that business is an element of this.”
Despite a drama-filled start to the season, the Steelers have since thrived and second-year rusher James Conner is enjoying a breakout season in Bell’s absence. Entering Week 11, Conner ranks third in the league in rushing yards (771) and rushing touchdowns (10).
The Steelers (6-2-1) will look to extend their winning streak to six games when they visit the Jaguars (3-6) in a rematch of last season’s AFC divisional round game on Sunday.