Le'Veon Bell reportedly won't join Steelers until after third preseason game

Le'Veon Bell is one of the league's most dynamic players, but he's no good to the Steelers on his couch, where he's been since the team began training camp in late July. The Steelers franchised Bell in the offseason, guaranteeing that he'll make $12.1 million in 2017 if the two sides couldn't come to terms on a long-term deal.

That long-term deal was never agreed upon and instead of signing his franchise tender, Bell decided to hold out. Now, with two preseason games remaining and reports that Bell might not show up till September, we're all left to wonder when he'll show up in Pittsburgh.

A source tells ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler that it would be a surprise if Bell isn't back with the Steelers shortly after the team's Week 3 preseason game against the Colts next Saturday.

The Steelers welcomed Martavis Bryant back to the lineup in Sunday's preseason win over the Falcons. Bryant missed the 2016 season due to a suspension, and like Bell, is a game-changing talent when he's on the field.

Unlike Bell, Bryant is still on his rookie contract. Bell, who rushed for 1,268 yards last season (4.9 yards per carry), scored seven touchdowns and had 75 receptions for 616 yards and two more scores, wanted to be the league's highest-paid back. The Steelers agreed, apparently -- the club reportedly offered Bell a deal that averaged $12 million annually -- that would make him the NFL's highest-paid back by some $3.5 million a year -- with $30 million in the first two years and $42 million in the first three.

Bell didn't sign.

"The running back market definitely took a hit, and I can't be the guy who continues to let it take a hit," Bell said last month when the two sides couldn't agree to terms on a new long-term deal. "We do everything. We block, we run, we catch the ball. Our value isn't where it needs to be. I'm taking it upon myself to open up some eyes and show the position is more valuable."

The good news is that Bell understands that the NFL is a business, and when the dust settles he doesn't want to be anywhere else but Pittsburgh.

"I definitely don't want to play for anybody else. You never know what will happen. ... I'm going to definitely enjoy my best year with the Steelers and be happy with it."

In Bell's absence, rookie third-round pick James Conner rushed for 98 yards on 20 carries against the Falcons.

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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