Bell was initially slated to miss the Steelers' first four games of the year, but it will be moved to three games after the NFL and NFLPA reached a settlement on Bell's case. The Steelers confirmed the suspension and GM Kevin Colbert said in a statement via the team's website that "we will continue to support Le'Veon, but we acknowledge this mistake has put the team in an unfortunate position."
Bell took to Instagram to let a random commenter know he would be back sooner than the four games. Maybe he thought a changed cell phone number would get him out of the entire suspension? Turns out that's not really the case. Although Bell should be happy he had his suspension reduced one game, because it's better than nothing.
Here are six things to know about the suspension:
1. Bell caught a pretty good break
It's great he gets his suspension reduced, but three games is still a pretty huge blow for the Steelers and Bell. It's still almost a quarter of the season, though. On the bright side, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Bell is going to remain in his current stage of the substance abuse program.
As part of the settlement, Le'Veon Bell remains in his current stage of the substance-abuse program.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 19, 2016
That's huge because of what it could mean for him moving forward -- Bell was suspended to start the season in 2015 as well for a substance-abuse violation. Now if he's busted again, he'll get a four-game suspension, instead of a Stage 3 suspension of 10 games.
That's a massive difference and a big reason why he was probably willing to work out this deal.
2. Bell's fantasy value doesn't change much
Some of us (me!) have been reaching a bit for Bell in our CBS Sports mock drafts, taking him as early as the second round. Now it's almost impossible to do that, because we know the full length of his suspension. He'll miss at minimum four weeks this year, including his bye week, which means buying early in the second round is pretty expensive. Late second or the third round is probably right and, as CBS Sports Senior Fantasy Writer Heath Cummings pointed out, you'll have to purchase DeAngelo Williams early as well.
I was planning (guessing) on a three game suspension since the appeal was announced, so Bell won't move in my rankings. He's a borderline second round pick in my opinion, but he's going to force you to spend more draft capital on running backs if you take him there. Handcuffing him with DeAngelo Williams is the obvious choice, but if you miss Arian Foster is a decent Plan B.
Drafting Bell in the second round definitely depends on your comfort level with using an early pick on Williams, who went early in the 8th round of our PPR mock draft on Friday. (Results coming soon!)
3. Steelers face a potential fine
With Bell's suspension now held up, the Steelers could be in line to get dinged by the NFL for some serious coin. They have Martavus Bryant suspended for the entire season and Bell's suspension is now official. One more suspension and the Steelers could face the same $250,000 fine the Cowboys are facing for their three suspended players.
As it stands, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports Pittsburgh will get hit with a $115,000 fine for the two guys.
Le'Veon Bell will lose $170K in salary; Steelers will have to pay $115K for suspensions of Bell and Martavis Bryant.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 19, 2016
4. Those first three games
The Steelers catch a little bit of a break as a team too. Even though they technically have the fifth-toughest schedule over the first four games of the year, they've got three winnable games to start the season. Pittsburgh opens up against the Redskins on the road on Monday Night Football, play the Bengals in Week 2 at home and then get the Eagles in Week 3 on the road.
None of them are cakewalks, but with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown on the field, coming out of those games at 2-1 wouldn't be a stunner. Bell's absence unquestionably hurts them, but Williams showed he's a capable fill-in back last year, particularly early in the season. He averaged over 80.1 yards per game when Bell was missing -- expect plenty of DeAngelo during the first three weeks of the year in 2016.
5. Health is a factor
There's nothing good about Bell being forced to miss three weeks of the regular season. But if you want a silver lining, how about the fact he's recovering from a torn ACL? Bell will be forced to spend longer off the field, which means working out and rehabbing and getting completely healthy before returning. Obviously he and the Steelers would rather have him out there catching passes and breaking ankles while helping them put up huge numbers on offense. But if someone has to miss time at least it's a critical skill-position player who is recovering from an injury and now gets more time to get healthy.
6. Contractual concerns
Also worth noting: Bell is about to be due a new contract. 2016 is the final year of his rookie deal, a contract he's vastly outperformed. But he's now suffered an ACL tear and been suspended for five of a possible 32 games in the span of one calendar year. At the very most he'll have played 19 games over the last two years.
Bell might very well be the best running back in football when he's healthy and on the field. But talent is irrelevant if you can't be there on gameday to produce. The Steelers certainly won't be inclined to let him walk, but the $15 million a year Bell wanted as recently as the past year? That's absolutely laughable.