Any hope of Le'Veon Bell showing up, signing his franchise tag tender and playing for the Steelers in 2018 is rapidly disappearing. And that hope may be false hope, if you believe the latest news that Bell will not report at all in 2018.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Bell has decided to skip the post-Week 10 deadline (Tues., Nov. 13, 4 p.m. ET) to sign his tender and therefore will not be allowed to play at all in the 2018 season.
, but if Bell doesn't show up by the deadline next week, he can still end up receiving the third version of the franchise tag based on how the CBA is worded. In other words, if the Steelers want to tag him for the 2019 season, they would need to pay him the price of the quarterback franchise tag, which will equal more than $25 million on a single, fully-guaranteed contract.
Given how James Conner has played this season, there is a zero percent chance that happens.
Pittsburgh could still end up giving Bell the transition tag, but that would ultimately amount to giving him a look at free agency with a chance to match. He would be able to leave with no compensation back to Pittsburgh.
Don't rule out the possibility the Steelers rescind the franchise tag. Even though it's been reported they won't get compensation (the NFL has a wildly complicated formula for compensatory picks), the gamble of getting something might be better than simply taking nothing.
Bell was tagged for the second time this past offseason and, once again, made it clear he was not a fan of the tag. But instead of showing up right before the season, Bell decided to stay away from the team. We're in the middle of Week 10 -- and the Steelers have already played and beaten the Panthers -- and Bell still hasn't reported.
At this point, with the possibility of simply giving up around $14 million for a single year and not dealing with any wear and tear on his body, Bell appears willing to sit out the season.
That means he likely ends up becoming a free agent.
It is worth noting Conner is in the concussion protocol, which means he could end up missing some time. It's possible this is a last-minute bluff by Bell's camp to try and get additional compensation from the Steelers, who are allowed to give him more money on his 2018 salary.
Bell spent most of the season in Miami before eventually leaving South Beach and heading back to Pittsburgh.and .
Nothing is guaranteed until the Tuesday deadline passes, but it looks like right now we will not be seeing Bell show up for the season.