And then there was one.
With the reported departure of Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh to Oakland, Le’Veon Bell is the last disgruntled player left on the Steelers’ roster.
The star running back sat out all last season amid a contract dispute with the team and, like Brown, stuck to his guns in regards to what he believes he is worth. Seeking a long-term contract with guaranteed money, Bell’s anticipated move is expected to be one of the biggest of free agency this season after Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert confirmed the organization won’t use the franchise tag on him.
After putting all their eggs in the “Killer B” basket, the Steelers succumbed to enough drama to offset their path to the playoffs and are now left with 37-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the only remaining component. The organization now faces an offseason full of uncertainty, but will start by dealing in free agency and looking ahead to next month’s draft for answers.
The void left by Brown and Bell will be filled by rising stars JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, but there’s still a defensive demand in the wake of linebacker Ryan Shazier’s potentially career-ending injury and the impending retirement of Roethlisberger to consider. The Steelers picked up some insurance with third-round selection Mason Rudolph in last year’s draft, but there’s plenty of work left to be done.
Meanwhile, Bell has generated plenty of buzz ahead of free agency and has been most closely linked to the Jets. However, the Raiders are another likely destination given the recent acquisition of Brown and the fact that his former teammate and wide receiver Martavis Bryant is in Oakland as well.
If there’s one thing to be learned from Jon Gruden’s first year back in Oakland as Raiders coach last season, it’s to always expect the unexpected.