Steelers' Le'Veon Bell: Remains away from team

Bell (contract dispute) could wait until Nov. 13 to sign his franchise tender and still accrue a full year of service time, which would allow him to hit free agency next March, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.

As has been the case throughout the summer, Bell remained absent from practice Thursday, making it increasingly likely that he'll be inactive when the team begins its season Sunday in Cleveland. How long Bell intends to continue his holdout remains unknown, but his agent, Adisa Bakari, suggested his client might not be keen on reporting to the team anytime soon. While Bell will forfeit $853,000 for each week he misses, it may be a price the running back is willing to pay to preserve his long-term health heading into next spring, when he projects to have a robust market as a free agent. The Steelers reportedly have no plans to rescind Bell's franchise tag and are reluctant to trade him, and since a new contract can't be negotiated at this point either, it appears the team has little choice but to wait out the 26-year-old. So long as Bell's status remains in limbo, James Conner is expected to lead the Pittsburgh backfield.

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