Agent for Le'Veon Bell attends Steelers opener but no progress made on new deal
Agent Adisa Bakari has given the team no timeframe for when the Pro Bowl runner might return to work
The agent for disgruntled Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who has been in South Florida while refusing to sign his franchise tag with Pittsburgh, attended the team's game against the Browns last week, league sources said, but could provide no update on the ongoing situation.
Agent Adisa Bakari, who also represents Browns starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, was in Cleveland for the Week 1 game to watch Taylor's Cleveland debut. The situation was not particularly uncomfortable, sources said, as it's routine for agents to be at such games, though the backdrop of this particular scenario was unique.
Bakari has given the team no timeframe for when the Pro Bowl runner might return to work, and in fact, no one beyond Bell truly knows how this will play out. Bell is not in communication with coaches or team officials and, as reported last weekend, the Steelers, with Bell asserting that he wants to protect his health and well-being to try to attain the largest guaranteed contract possible on the open market in 2019.
The Steelers have never considered or entertained the idea of trading Bell and would not accommodate a player they view as skipping out on the team -- a long-standing philosophy of the Rooney family. Team officials have told me they would be very surprised if Bell didn't skip at least 4-6 games, with some suggesting him missing the entire first half of the season wouldn't be a surprise. Bell must return by mid-November or sit out the entire season.
The Steelers are prepared to move on without Bell in 2019, sources said, and while they could place the transition tag on him, the odds of them matching a record-setting offer are rare; a team who elects to not match an offer to a transition player receives no draft picks as compensation. If/when Bell leaves as a free agent the Steelers will be in line for a third-round comp pick in return.
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