Steelers' Rooney: 'No hard feelings' toward Bell

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II accompanies his mother Patricia Rooney (R) widow of Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Daniel Rooney after his funeral service at Saint Paul Cathedral on April 18, 2017.Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

Rooney: "Respect his position, no hard feelings. We just like to get him here as quickly as we can and get him started."

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II has seen the script play out in regard to running back Le'Veon Bell.

Bell is skipping camp for the second straight year after he and the Steelers' front office failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal before the deadline. The Steelers' brass insists it isn't worried about Bell's preparedness heading into what could be his final year with the team.

"We went through this last year," the 65-year-old Rooney told NFL Network's Judy Battista on Inside Training Camp Live on Saturday. "And when Le'Veon got here, his commitment to the team is as good as ever so expect the same thing when he gets here this year. Of course, I hope he gets here a little earlier; we'll see.

"Le'Veon is a professional. We're disappointed we weren't able to come to an agreement but that's the business side of football. Respect his position, no hard feelings. We just like to get him here as quickly as we can and get him started."

Rooney said he wasn't certain if 2018 will be Bell's last season in the Steel City.

"I'm not going to say that. We'll revisit his contract after the season," Rooney said. "Who knows? There's a lot of miles to travel between now and then and hopefully a lot of good miles on the football field for Le'Veon."

Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari, had a different take when he said weeks ago that "the most likely scenario is that '18 will be (Bell's) last season in the black and gold."

Bell is set to make $14.5 million this season under the franchise tag. He will become a free agent after this season.

The 26-year-old 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.

Bell 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.

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."

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