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Steelers believe Le’Veon Bell will report before next week’s deadline

Le’Veon Bell

Regardless of the optics of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s latest actions, his team believes that he will beat next week’s deadline for franchise-tagged players.

In a recent appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers owner Art Rooney said that his team is hopeful that Bell will eventually sign the franchise tag tender on or before the Nov. 13 deadline [h/t Austin Knoblauch of NFL.com].

“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Steelers owner Art Rooney II said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. “We know he’s back in Pittsburgh and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”

Bell has been reportedly spotted in Pittsburgh playing pickup basketball with some locals. That came after he issued a cryptic tweet last Monday saying that he’s leaving Miami, where he spent plenty of time during his still ongoing holdout.

In the event that Le’Veon Bell lets the deadline pass without signing the franchise tag offer (worth $14.544 million), the Steelers could tag him for the third year in a row in 2019. However, the amount the Steelers need for them to tag Bell in 2019 would be in the same ballpark as the salaries of quarterbacks. That would put the Steelers in a financial bind, though, they are unlikely to keep Bell for such a luxurious contract, especially when considering how terrific second-year pro James Conner is playing this season.

The Steelers can opt for a cheaper option, which is to transition tag Bell, but that would also mean the running back can check the free-agent market’s climate.

A lot of questions will be answered next Tuesday.