Le'Veon Bell is pursing a comeback. Bell, a former All-Pro running back who hasn't played in the NFL since 2021, is planning to train this spring to see if his body is ready for a return to the gridiron.
Bell, via social media, said that there's only one team he wants to play for if he determines that he is physically ready to pursue a comeback. While he didn't say that team by name, it's pretty clear that Bell was alluding to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he starred for from 2013-17.
"I won't start training until like March," Bell said, via Sports Illustrated. "I'm gonna be honest with myself, I got to go out there and be like, I'm going to put my foot in the ground. Do I feel it? Am I hurting? Can I go out there and really play again? And bro, I'm telling you all right now when I go out there and train in March and if I hit April and I make this decision to come back to play in the NFL again, mark my words down — I will be better than I ever was. And I will only come back for that one team. You all know who it is. I don't have to say no team. You all know who it is."
Is a comeback with Pittsburgh possible? The Steelers already have two quality running backs in Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. So the odds of Bell getting a spot on Pittsburgh's roster are thin, unless he is willing to contribute on special teams.
One thing that is working in Bell's favor is that fact that both he and the Steelers appear to be on good terms after what was a messy divorce. Bell visited the team's facility this past season for the first time since he left the team after sitting out the entire 2018 season over a contract dispute.
Bell was one of the NFL's top players from 2014-17. During that span, he was named to three Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2014 and in 2016. He was also named the Steelers' MVP both of those All-Pro years while helping Pittsburgh win three division titles over that span.
He is the owner of several franchise records that include the most all-purpose yards for a single season (2,215 yards), the most receptions by a running back in one season (85), and the most rushing yards in both a regular-season and postseason game.
Bell was part of an offense in Pittsburgh dubbed the "Killer B's" that also featured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Four of Roethlisberger's six career Pro Bowl berths were earned during that span. Brown, a former sixth-round pick, blossomed into the league's top receiver while playing alongside Bell and Roethlisberger.
"Everything was just clicking," Bell said of Pittsburgh's offense during that time during a recent interview with CBS Sports. "The run set up the passing game with AB, Martavis Bryant on the outside side, Markus Wheaton. We were loaded. As a defense, you had to pick your poison."
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The Steelers of that time also possessed one of the NFL's top offensive lines that included nine-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, six-time Pro Bowl right guard David DeCastro, two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, and longtime starters Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert. The offense also featured Pro Bowl fullback Roosevelt Nix, a fellow Columbus-area native who played against Bell in high school.
The unit provided sterling protection for Roethlisberger. It also worked in concert with Bell while complementing a running style that was predicated on patience.
"We had a good chemistry in Pittsburgh," Bell said. "Me, the O-line and Rosie, we hung out all the time. My running style was so different. I think differently than a lot of people when they run the ball. My offensive linemen understood that. They always knew that, as long as they were in front of me, they're winning. Defenders don't want to pick a side, so naturally, the offensive line would slowly be pushing them back, and before you know it, I had four yards before I was even touched. And that was the chemistry we had."
Bell's time in Pittsburgh ended prematurely after he and the Steelers could not come to terms on a longterm deal. He ultimately signed a big contract with the Jets but was released after less than two years with he team. Bell then had short stints with Kansas City and Baltimore during the 2020 and '21 seasons.
Bell recently said that he regrets how things ended in Pittsburgh. That may be part of what is fueling his thoughts of a comeback. While he can't re-write the past, Bell will attempt to see if his can write a better closing chapter to his time with the Steelers and the NFL.