Don Wright/Associated Press
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, “Bell expects to report to the Steelers during the Week 7 bye” and “definitely plans to play football for the Steelers this season.”
The Steelers are still listening to trade offers for Bell and reporting to the team will not “dissuade the Steelers from making a deal that made sense,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The 26-year-old has sat out the first four games of the season. Without him, the Steelers have gone 1-2-1 with James Conner filling in at running back.
Bell was set to make roughly $14.5 million in 2018, which would have given him the highest cap hit of any running back in the league, per Spotrac. However, he has lost $853,000 for each week he has missed.
The problems started when Bell was unable to agree on a long-term deal with the Steelers before the extension deadline. Pittsburgh reportedly offered him $70 million over five years, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, but Bell’s agent said the amount of guaranteed money was a sticking point. That led Bell to hold out throughout training camp for the second straight season.
Bell missed the entire preseason last year but still finished with 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. He was named a first-team All-Pro for the second time in his career.
This year, Bell did not show up to the team facility ahead of the regular season. His teammates were frustrated with his absence ahead of their Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns.
“What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess so we’ll treat it as such,” guard Ramon Foster said, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I just hate it came to this.”
“Nobody cares,” receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said in June in reference to whether the Pro Bowler would show up to camp, per Fowler.
The Steelers recently began listening to trade offers for Bell, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Assuming Bell does return during the Steelers’ Week 7 bye, he will have to prove himself to his teammates and coaching staff to avoid any more distractions. He’ll also have to get physically back up to speed to contribute in the team’s Week 8 game against the Browns.