"Honestly it's a little selfish. I'm kinda pissed right now. It sucks that he's not here."
Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell still has not reported to camp and has officially been ruled out for the Steelers' Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Last night, Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari, hinted that Bell might be willing to holdout into the regular season. Bakari told NFL Live in an appearance Wednesday, "He's going to do the things necessary to protect his value long-term."
In wake of Bakari's comments, several Steelers players have called out Bell, including the guys who do the blocking for him.
“What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn,” guard Ramon Foster said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I just hate it came to this.
“He’s making seven times what I make twice as much as (left tackle) Al (Villanueva) is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
Fellow offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey told reporters, "Honestly it's a little selfish. I'm kinda pissed right now. It sucks that he's not here. we'll move on as a team. It doesn't look like he'll be in the game plan at this point. [James] Conner looks great. We'll worry about him in week 2." Pouncey added, "A star is born every year in the NFL. Did anyone know (Kansas City’s) Kareem Hunt would be an all-pro before last season? If James Conner didn't have cancer, he'd have been a first-round pick. Just watch him."
Bell has remained quiet about when he plans to return to the team, but he has certainly noticed the comments coming from the Steelers locker room. He simply commented, "Whoa" on a Bleacher Report IG post that contained the following quote from Pouncey, "Why play hide-and-seek? Why let your agent say this? Just man up and tell us what you're going to do." Pouncey had originally told reporters that he expected the 26-year old running back to reunite with his teammates on Wednesday.
Bell rushed for 1,291 yards (third in the NFL) on 321 carries with nine TDs, in addition to 85 receptions (2nd most on Steelers) for 655 yards and two scores last season. With all of the touches he gets during the season he wants wide receiver money, but he stands to miss out on $852,941 each week that he's away from the team. According to ESPN, Bell can become a free agent in 2019 as long as he signs his $14.5 million franchise tag by Week 11.