Le'Veon Bell seems to hint he's willing to sit out more than half of 2018 season

Less than one year after skipping training camp, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell sounds like he might actually be willing to miss some regular-season games if he can't get a long-term deal done in Pittsburgh. 

Bell was hit with the franchise tag Tuesday, which means he'll make a guaranteed $14.5 million in 2018 once he signs the one-year deal. Although that's a lot money, Bell has made it clear that he doesn't want to play under the tag and that he wants the security that comes with a long-term deal. 

So what will happen if the two sides can't get a deal done by the July 16 deadline?

During a recent interview with Billboard magazine, Bell said that he might not show up until Week 10, if he shows up at all, and all of that is going to be based on how he feels about things. 

"When the end of July comes, wherever we're at ... if I sign, everybody'll be happy, but if not, I guess I gotta play it by ear," Bell said. "If I'll be out till Week 1, if I'll be out till Week 10, or if I'm gonna be out there at all. It depends on how I feel at that time and moment."

Bell threatened in January to retire if the Steelers asked him to play under the franchise tag again, and although it sounds like that is now off the table, it does seem that Bell is contemplating a new strategy that might involve him sitting out multiple games in 2018. 

This doesn't seem to be a bluff, either. One of Bell's teammates recently told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala‏ that he could see Bell sitting out one or two games to make a point. 

Despite being hit with the franchise tag, Bell seems optimistic that a long-term deal can get done. 

"I'm hoping for that," Bell told Billboard. "I mean, obviously, I didn't expect the deal to get done [by the March 6 franchise tag deadline], I didn't necessarily come in with too much expectation. But I'm definitely hoping for something to get done."

Bell has made it clear that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, so it's just a matter of finding a price that both sides can agree on. 

Although no one seems to know what exactly that price is, one of his former teammates might have given us a hint last summer. Back in July, Bell  told former Steelers teammate Ike Taylor last summer that he was seeking a deal worth roughly $15 million per season. According to Taylor, Bell wants to be paid as a No. 1 running back and a No. 2 wide receiver. 

Until the Steelers are willing to give him that kind of money, it looks like the two sides will remain in a stalemate, and if that stalemate goes past July 16, there's a very real chance that Bell will sit out at least part of the season. After getting hit with the franchise tag in 2017, Bell skipped all of training camp and didn't report to the Steelers until Sept. 1, just nine days before their season opener. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories