Le’Veon Bell’s absence “not expected to last much longer” from Pittsburgh Steelers
By Matt Conner
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to end his absence from the team soon. The Chiefs will wait and see for Week 2.
Just hours before the Kansas City Chiefs kick off their season against the Los Angeles Chargers, a major storyline for their second game continues to update with word that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s holdout “is not expected to last much longer,” per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The Chiefs have had issues against the Steelers in recent years, especially when it counts most, and Bell’s patience, burst and vision has been a significant part of that. Bell has averaged 135 yards rushing per game in his career against the Chiefs, and the Steelers’ ability to move the chains at will to run down the clock has been frustrating for both coaches and fans.
This year, Bell has followed through with his threat to hold out from the team as he hopes his actions will turn into a long-term extension from the team. Last year, he threatened the same and skipped training camp but ended up signing around Labor Day and played the entire season.
In 2018, Bell has already missed the Steelers first game which results in the loss of a game check worth well over $800,000. For each game missed, it’s watching very, very good money disappear, a high cost in search for even more money—money that he doesn’t even know will be there.
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Bell’s representatives have said he would be willing to sit out for much of the season, which could mean around half since Bell has to play in enough games (six) to accrue a full season per the league’s collective bargaining agreement. If he does that, he can reach unrestricted free agency after the season is over where he would likely part ways from the only team he’s played for in the NFL so far.
That said, running back is an interesting position, one in which a player’s contributions can be undervalued simply because the demand is there to meet the supply. Just last year, the Chiefs employed the league’s leading rusher who was a third round rookie fresh out of the University of Toledo. To watch Kareem Hunt putting up 1,327 rushing yards while making in a season what Bell just gave up for a single game is likely what’s allowing the Steelers to move on from Bell—no matter how talented.
If Schefter’s sources are right, perhaps Bell could have a change of heart and turn things around. It has to be hard to sit there missing a Sunday—not only for the money but for the experience with teammates as well. If he misses either or both enough, the Chiefs might have to face Bell rather than lucking out with a lengthy holdout.