"He's going to do the things necessary to protect his value long-term."
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell still has not reported to camp and his 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."
According to ESPN, Bell has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tag and can become a free agent in 2019 as long as he signs it by Week 11. Each week Bell skips, he forfeits $852,941.
Of course, the Steelers were hopeful he'd have joined the team by now ahead of their Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, but now it's highly unlikely #26 will be toting the rock in Sunday's season opener.
"Le'Veon has several years left in football, we know his days in Pittsburgh are precarious at best, we also know how he's been utilized in the past by the Steelers organization," Bakari told NFL Live (H/T ESPN).
"That's nothing to say negative about the Steelers. They had one of the best players to play the position and they used him heavily for the production he can provide, but in doing so you take away from his future years."
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports some Steelers teammates, including veteran guard Ramon Foster, are not happy with Bell's decision to remain away from the team. According to Bouchette, Foster says, “He’s making 7 times what I make twice as much as Al (Villanueva) is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.” Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger told reporters, “Football is the ultimate team sport. One person doesn’t make or break you. I’d like to say the linemen are more important than any skill player, including myself, on this team. This offense is more than one guy.”
According to ESPN, the Steelers issued the following statement through director of communications Burt Lauten, "We are not going to discuss any conversations through the media. If Adisa (Bakari) would like to talk further, he has the phone number to our offices."