As Le’Veon Bell’s holdout reaches a third week of the NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to listen to trade offers for their disgruntled star running back, according to ESPN.
Bell did not sign his one-year, $14.54 million franchise tender after the Steelers retained him in March using the franchise tag. The two sides failed to reach agreement despite negotiating toward a long-term contract in July. Based on the value of the franchise tender, Bell would lose $853K for each game he misses this season.
Bell’s name was removed from the depth chart altogether ahead of Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Without the All-Pro at halfback, the Steelers have turned to second-year running back James Conner. He responded with 135 yards rushing and two scores on 31 carries and 57 receiving yards on five catches in a Week 1 tie against the Cleveland Browns. He was held to 17 yards on the ground against the Chiefs, but scored a touchdown and added five catches for 48 yards.
Conner was the highest-graded running back in preseason, according to Pro Football Focus.
In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell has had at least 1,200 yards rushing and 600 receiving yards three times. He is a two-time first-team All-Pro, has been named to three Pro Bowls and is generally regarded as the best all-around running back in the league.
But his contract squabbles with the club have become an annual offseason ritual. After not signing under the franchise tag until Sept. 4 last season, Bell averaged fewer than 3.5 yards per carry through the first three weeks. But he finished 2017 with a league-high 321 carries for 1,291 yards along with 85 catches for 655 yards and 11 total touchdowns.
—Field Level Media