The first official practice day of the 2018 regular season is upon us, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' franchise player is still absent. Running back Le'Veon Bell, who was franchise-tagged by the team this offseason after they could not come to an agreement on a long-term contract, did not report to the team as expected. One Steelers teammate told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala that there were "no signs" of Bell at the team's facility on Monday.
In Bell's absence, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert issued a statement expressing his disappointment that Bell did not show up.
"We are disappointed Le'Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates," Colbert said, per the team's official website. "Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns."
Bell has now held out for a new deal during each of the past two offseasons. Last year, he showed up the week before the first game of the season and put together another excellent campaign, during which he totaled 1,947 yards on a league-high 406 touches.
The Steelers have shown no indication that they will meet his asking price on a long-term contract and it's now expected that he'll leave the team next offseason. It was also expected that he would report to the team on Monday, however, and that has not yet happened. If Bell misses any time during the regular season, he is likely to be replaced by his backup, former Pittsburgh (University) running back James Conner, who was the team's third-round pick in 2017.