Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell plans to repeat last year’s script by skipping training camp before reporting ahead of the season opener, his agent said on Tuesday.
“Barring something exceptional … that is correct,” agent Adisa Bakari said on Sirius XM NFL Radio after being asked if Bell plans to follow his steps from last year. Bell has been unable to reach a long-term deal with the Steelers after receiving the franchise tag in consecutive offseasons.
The Steelers report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., for training camp on July 25. They open their season on Sept. 9 against the AFC North-rival Browns in Cleveland.
Bell is set to make $14.5 million this season under the franchise tag. He will become a free agent after this season.
“His intention was to retire as a Steeler,” Bakari told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is this now likely will be Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.”
Bell, who signed on Sept. 4 last year, struggled to get going in the early weeks of the 2017 season before finding his stride. In last season’s Sept. 10 opener against the Cleveland Browns, Bell had 10 carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 15 yards in the Steelers’ 21-18 victory.
The 26-year-old was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2017, when he led the NFL in regular-season carries with 321 while gaining 1,291 rushing yards. He also had 85 receptions for 655 yards.
Bell added 16 carries, 67 rushing yards, nine receptions and 88 receiving yards in the postseason.
According to ESPN.com, the Steelers made a contract offer last summer and another during the winter starting at approximately $13.3 million per year on average. The Steelers raised their offer slightly, but Bell turned both down. In April, he told ESPN he would not accept less than $14.5 million per year in a long-term contract.
Bell tweeted the following message after failing to get a long-term deal:
“To all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler…both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times…to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let you down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date.”