The saga has been drawn out for months now, with Le’Veon Bell not showing up for Pittsburgh over the last nine weeks. It has led to the revelation of James Conner, who has single-handedly put many defensive schemes into disarray. A lot of the players on the Steelers have expressed that they are unfazed by Bell no-showing, with Conner being able to more than fill the backfield spot. This all may change in the next few days though.
There has been more hype around these two words than there has been about Conner’s performances this season. There is no denying that Bell is an impact player, someone who can make defenders miss at will. The three years that Bell has had more than 250 rushing attempts, he has gone over 1,200 rushing yards. In 2014, Bell had over 2,000 total yards.
Conner has had a magical sophomore season, on track for just under 1,500 rushing yards and 2,200 total yards. In 5 of the 8 games that he has played, he has totaled 100+ rushing yards. His performance against Cleveland in October topped the team with 200 total yards, so it is not hard to see why the Steelers are comfortable with the second-year back from the University of Pittsburgh.
This does not mean that Bell will report to the Pittsburgh facility within the next few days, with Adam Schefter tweeting out that Bell has to report by November 13th at 4pm or be out for this season.
It is not known as to whether Bell is heading back to Pittsburgh or if he is going elsewhere. The Steelers front office hasn’t heard from him in weeks, and the players don’t care anymore.
CBS Sports and John Breech caught up with Steelers OL David DeCastro, and he make it pretty clear when asked about Bell.
“Honestly, no one cares anymore,” DeCastro said on Sunday, via NFL.com. “Why would I? I don’t want to waste the energy. I have to block some of the best players on the best defense in the world. Do you think I’m going to worry about a guy who’s not here?”
It leaves head coach Mike Tomlin with quite the dilemma if Bell does decide to report to the facility between now and the 13th. Does he put in a proven performer who has been great for the storied franchise, or does Conner keep the starting gig?
There is the option of having them both on the field at the same time, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. With options like Juju Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown and the tight end combination of Jesse James/Vance McDonald, there is only the need for one quality running back on the field.
If Bell does end up coming back, there will be teams across the league that will be circling around Conner at the end of the year. There are already teams that want Bell, with Philadelphia and Miami both potential suitors come seasons end. Washington could also be an option if Adrian Peterson is let go.
Bell doesn’t have to report, but he will lose all of his $14.5 million scheduled salary. He has already lost $9 million by not reporting to the facility, and if he wants the rest of that leftover money, he will want to report rather quickly. He can’t play until week 11, due to Pittsburgh playing on Thursday night, which gives Conner another week to impress.
The question will be asked if Pittsburgh and the players will accept Bell if he reports to the team. It’s a question that will be answered soon, assuming that he goes back in the first place.