It’s the same old story for the Pittsburgh Steelers with regards to the status of controversial running back Le’Veon Bell. To this day, Bell is still on a holdout, opting to sit back home than join his team, as he continues to pressure the Steelers into offering him a longer and more lucrative deal than the franchise tag offer Pittsburgh has put on his table as early as March of this year.
It seems that Bell’s strategy isn’t working. The Steelers have long said that they are not going to rescind that franchise tag offer to Bell nor have given any notable signs that they are going to trade the running back.
One thing that won’t help Bell get what he wants from Pittsburgh is the fact that the Steelers have been generally successful in games that he was not on the field, per this graphic from Fox Sports 1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
Are the Steelers actually better WITHOUT Le’Veon Bell? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/p98FbtyGMx
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) September 14, 2018
A big chunk of those 15 games in which Le'Veon Bell wasn’t available took place in the 2015 campaign, when he missed a total of 10 contests. He began that season serving a three-game suspension due for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He also missed seven more games after suffering a torn MCL, which ended his season. However, the Steelers had a dependable backup that year in the form of DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns.
This time around, the Steelers have second-year running back James Conner acting as Bell’s placeholder in the backfield. If Conner’s performance last week against the Cleveland Browns is any indication, the Steelers probably could weather Bell’s continued absence. Against the Browns, Conner rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns to go with 57 receiving yards on five catches.