One of the common axioms among professional athletes is that you don’t mess with another player’s contract situation. Some members of the Pittsburgh Steelers violated that often unspoken rule last week, which apparently disappointed Le’Veon Bell.
Appearing on the “Dave Dameshek Football Podcast” this week, former running back-turned-analyst Maurice Jones-Drew said he spoke with Bell, who shared that he was disappointed by what his teammates did.
“[Bell] said to me ‘people think that I don’t like Pittsburgh, I don’t like James Conner, I don’t like these guys,'” Jones-Drew said, as transcribed by NFL.com. “He was like yes, I was disappointed they went out and spoke about my contract, understandably so. He was like, but I still want them to do well, they’re still guys that I work with and guys that I’ve put in this extra work with — blood, sweat and tears like I still want them to do well.”
The situation has become ugly for many involved.
Bell was franchise-tagged by the Steelers but has not signed his tender for 2018. He would be paid around $14.5 million this season if he were to sign his tender. Instead, Bell has not been playing as part of a plan to seemingly protect his value ahead of free agency. Bell just needs to report to the team by Week 10 in order to accrue a year towards free agency.
The Steelers have been practicing without Bell and are now playing without him, instead using James Conner as their starter. One particular issue that seems to be bothering the team — and players — is the uncertainty; Bell has not informed them of his plans, which leaves them in the dark and seems to be at the root of their complaints.