Even if the team enters the season without its All-Pro running back, the Pittsburgh Steelers are not planning to change their position in the ongoing standoff with Le’Veon Bell.
While rumours circulated a trade could be the only solution in Bell’s holdout, NFL Network reported Thursday the Steelers will not rescind the franchise tag or trade Bell.
Bell has not signed a $14.5 million US tender as the team’s designated franchise player, and it’s unclear when he plans to return to the team.
Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, suggested in an appearance during ESPN’s “NFL Live” on Wednesday that Bell’s holdout could continue past this week, saying that his client “is going to do the things necessary to protect his value long-term.”
“Le’Veon has several years ahead of him in football,” Bakari told NFL Live. “We know right now his days in Pittsburgh are precarious at best. We also know how he’s been utilized in the past by the Steelers organization.
“That’s nothing to say negative about the Steelers. They had one of the best players to have ever played this position and they rely on him heavily for the production he can provide, but in doing so, you take away from his future years.”
Roethlisberger said Wednesday he is ready to go with James Conner, a second-year back who played his college football at Pitt, in the backfield.
“I think we’re all excited for what he can bring to this offence and this team,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons. We’d like out there, but we’ve got guys who can make plays for us.”
Stevan Ridley and rookie Jaylen Samuels will back up Conner.