- Star running back Le’Veon Bell has missed the first four games of the season over a prolonged contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ that does not look to be ending any time soon.
- Although his absence from gameplay has frustrated many of his teammates, Bell pointed to Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas’s holdout and subsequent season-ending leg fracture to justify his own decision to avoid gameplay.
- According to the Washington Post‘s Cindy Boren, the Steelers are now trying to trade away their star to little avail.
With Week 4 of the 2018 season under wraps and the Pittsburgh Steelers sitting at the bottom of the AFC North standings, fans across the NFL are wondering if and when star running back Le’Veon Bell will return for the black and gold.
If Bell’s own Instagram comments are any indication, Steeler nation could be waiting for quite a while.
Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas — who was engaged in a similar contract dispute to Bell’s — sustained a season-ending leg fracture in the team’s win against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Thomas held out all offseason in hopes of increasing his leverage in contract negotiations but returned to the team without a new deal. His injury will undoubtedly complicate efforts to cash in on a new deal; a reality Bell pointed out to justify his holdout.
After sending a message of support to Thomas, Bell hinted that he would opt to continue his protest of gameplay on his behalf:
“Smh, exactly…” Bell wrote on ESPN’s Instagram post. “Get right bro bro [Earl Thomas]! I’ll continue to be the ‘bad guy’ for ALL of us.”
Bell has not played in a game this season to protect himself from a similar fate while he awaits a greater payday. Many of Bell’s teammates have publicly expressed frustration with his continued absence, and according to the Washington Post’s Cindy Boren, Pittsburgh is currently trying to trade the star away to little avail.
With each week that passes, Bell’s 2019 salary potential diminishes. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Bell’s transition tag salary for next season could be as low as $9.24 million should he sit out until midway through this year’s campaign. Combined with the $3.41 million he has forgone so far this season, Bell’s pockets could be taking a major hit if contract negotiations do not go his way.