Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has hinted that he'll be rejoining his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates on Friday, September 1st after skipping training camp and, so far, refusing to sign his $12.1 million franchise tender.
Bell responded to a fan on twitter who asked when he would be returning to the field, "9-1-17," which is the day after the Steelers' final preseason game.
9-1-17 😉 https://t.co/8Sj7MvzD79— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) August 23, 2017
you're welcome 😁 https://t.co/9nIZc4wqjj— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) August 23, 2017
According to ESPN'sESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Le'Veon is expected to sign the $12.1 million franchise tender when he finally reports to camp on September 1st. The Steelers will likely have off that day, as well as September 2nd and possibly even the 3rd.
Bell has been reluctant to sign the deal because he feels he deserves a salary equal to the NFL's elite wide receivers, who make substantially more than the top paid running backs. The 25-year old star has averaged 130 yards from scrimmage per game over the course of his four-year NFL career, including at least 75 receptions in two of the last three season. Because of Bell's abilities as a dual threat running back, he will likely become the NFL's highest paid running back once he signs a long-term deal - the only question is how much will the Steelers be willing to pay him compared to the NFL's elite running backs.
As of now, Atlanta Falcons running back, Devonta Freeman, is the highest paid running back in the sport. Freeman, also 25, was scheduled to make just $1.79 million this season in the last year of his rookie contract, but will now rake in over $8 million annually as part of the 5-year $41.25 million extension that he signed this off-season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their third preseason game on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts, and the first-team offense is set to play for most of, if not the entire, first half. The fourth and final preseason game is scheduled for August 31st, the day before Bell is expected to report, so we won't see him on the field until the Steelers' regular season opener on September 10th. Pittsburgh will be on the road for that game against the division rival Cleveland Browns.