Le'Veon Bell reportedly barred from minicamp because he's not under contract

Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell didn't take part in the team's recent voluntary workouts but there was speculation that the league's most dynamic player might be on hand Tuesday for the start of minicamp.

Two problems: Bell is still recovering from offseason groin surgery and he's currently without a contract. The Steelers used the franchise tag on Bell in February but Bell has yet to sign his tender, which means he's not under contract.

And that, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, means that Bell is prohibited from attending minicamp.

It's not unusual for players looking for long-term deals to hold off on signing the one-year franchise-tag offer -- and in Bell's case, he would earn $12.1 million in 2017 -- and now the two sides have until July 15 to get a new contract done. At issue is whether the Steelers will pay Bell $12 million annually -- which would be $4 million more than the next highest-paid back, LeSean McCoy of the Bills.

Worth noting: McCoy and Bell ranked second and third in the league in running back efficiency last season, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, but McCoy will be 29 when the season starts while Bell will be just 25. And Bell appeared in just 12 games last season; McCoy missed one game.

And just so there's no confusion, Bell's absence should in no way be construed as his protest for a new deal. ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reports that the running back visited the team facilities and met with officials in May, and the takeaway was that Bell was recovering nicely from his surgery.

In addition to Bell, the Steelers are also looking to lock up left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and defensive end Stephon Tuitt to long-term deals before the season.

And when Bell does return, he'll join one of the NFL's most explosive offenses that starts with Ben Roethlisberger and includes Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, rookie second-rounder JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eli Rogers.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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