Steelers appear ready to start James Conner this week even if Le’Veon Bell reports

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Le'Veon Bell ended his 2017 holdout in time to practice with the Steelers the first week of the season. He started the season opener but had only 32 yards on 10 carries against the Browns followed by 87 yards on 27 carries against the Vikings in Week Two.

The running back still hasn’t reported to the team with the 2018 season opener only five days away, and the Steelers appear ready to start James Conner even if Bell shows up before Sunday, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Coach Mike Tomlin said he feels more comfortable with Conner this year.

“James — the status and condition and approach of James,” Tomlin said. “Being a rookie who missed a lot of time due to soft tissue injuries and lack of general readiness to a guy who’s done the things that we outlined.”

The Steelers have a two-week roster exemption they can use on Bell, whose pay while on roster-exempt status would have to be negotiated before he signs his franchise tender. Bell is due to make $14.55 million under the one-year franchise tag, which translates to more than $855,000 per week.

Tomlin does not know when Bell might arrive, saying Tuesday that he has not talked to Bell this week.

“Much like I’ve told you guys throughout this process when he gets here is when we will start quantifying all Le’Veon Bell-type things,” Tomlin said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “His overall readiness, the amount of time that we have between our arrival and our next competition, etc. We will weigh all of those things at the appropriate time. Right now, we are singularly focused on the guys who are here working and have been here working and building a plan around variables that we know. That’s the appropriate thing.”

56 responses to “Steelers appear ready to start James Conner this week even if Le’Veon Bell reports

  1. Connor is just a guy. If Bortles can hang 45 on that ragtag defense, the Browns will post 60.

  2. Bell is entitled to hold out. The Steelers are also entitled to have 2 week exemption that will cost Bell 1.7 million. I hope they use it when he decides to show up. Then if he is a head case they can start suspending him i believe 2 weeks at a time for Conduct detrimental to the team. that would be 1.7 million each time.

  3. Good for him!! Bell needs to be traded to the worst NFC team because that’s what he deserves!

  4. Of course they aren’t, he hasn’t cared. I know it wouldn’t happen, but why not give him the Josh Norman treatment, probably cuz Big Ben would retire on the spot.

    You can have Bell go for around 2K all purpose yards and 10TDs . Or you can have 2 guys go for 1500 total yards and 8 TDs.

    I can promise you the money that is SAVED for having committee do it is WELL worth it.

  5. The worst thing “leverage gone” bell could have done was wait long enough that we see what this guy can do. When he goes out and carries 30 times for 150 yards this week, that price tag is gonna look all the more unnecessary

  6. Bell’s response if they stash him for 2 weeks and he loses that pay is bound to be……interesting.

  7. It’s amazing how many analysts don’t understand what’s going on. They talk about he has nothing left to gain at this point by holding out. That’s ridiculous. He’s in the rarest of sorts crossrods especially in the short nfl career.

    He’s a franchise player in the prime of his career in a contract year.

    It’s his one and only chance as a running back to land his giant contract.

    But he’s one major injury away from destroying that reality

    And the Steelers want him to walk out on the field and risk all that for what breaks down to only 10 million guaranteed in their low-ball contact offer and 14 if he signs a one year tender.

    He’s worth maybe twice that on the open market.

    If I were him I’d do the same thing too. Pay me market value or trade my ass to a team that will. Otherwise I’m not rushing this once in a lifetime contract opportunity to save you guys a couple bucks.

  8. Pull the franchise tag and let Cheech see what his value is to the other 31 teams. Time for the Steelers to become the organization everyone seems to believe them to be. Strong, decisive and intolerant of selfishness. Ooops – Then again their QB is Big Ben, they have two $20+ cap hits in 2019 and Tomlin is their “coach” (apologist?). Bell is gone next year -he and everyone else knows it. Revoke the tag and let him find his new Sugar daddy. Odds are he’ll make a small fraction of the $14 million he would have made if he had signed two months ago, but hey – that’s our Cheech!

  9. if Bell holds out to week 10 and walks away from the 8.5 million he better hope that the next contract is 2-3 million PER YEAR GUARANTEED more than the Steelers offered to just break even from the lost amount this year.

  10. What is the point in not showing up by now?

    Oh wait, this is the guy that uses double, triple, and quadruple negatives per sentence..

    Would like to see him play more, talk/rap less

  11. I totally agree with Dream Energy. Look at what holding out did for Mack? Not reporting to camp is the ONLY card that a player can play. If he gets released just watch what teams will pay him! We fans just want to watch football but to these guys it is a business and the billionaire owners have most of the cards. Why so many fans seem to side with the owners is beyond me.

  12. I understand it’s a business but he’s not a very good teammate. He should have shown up on Monday. To show up on Wednesday only reinforces the fact that all Le’Veon Bell cares about is Le’Veon Bell. In that case he should have chosen a sport like tennis or golf, not the ultimate team sport of football.

  13. “they should withdraw the tag and spend the money on the defense”

    If they spend all that money on the defense how are they going to have enough money to pay the Ref’s

  14. If im Bell im not reporting till week eight. He’ll still make 6,7, or 8 million and less risk of being injured.

  15. Love watching Tomlin ruin this franchise.

    Overrated cheerleader.

    If Bell were smart, he’d sit out the 8 games and report at the last minute. This team is going nowhere.

    They fired Haley and kept around Butler who made Blake Bortles look like Brett Favre.

    Oh btw, Shazier still doesn’t know how to tackle.

  16. The peanut gallery all upset and yelling that the Steelers should pull Bell’s franchise tag, or that his a malcontent, or that the Steelers don’t need Bell need to get a grip. The Steelers are the ones that created this situation. They are the ones that franchised tagged Bell. Bell had no say in that situation even though he let it known he did not want to be tagged.

    The Steelers could have let him hit the free agent market but THEY chose not to. Just cause a team applies the tag doesn’t mean the player has to sign it right away to please the peanut gallery. It’s maddening you all think this is about you. You act like these players are here to totally and only serve you. If it’s all about team and the player doesn’t matter I’m not even sure what you’re gripping about. Just go out and cheer your team and stop worrying about how another man goes about handling his business. It’s frankly a little pathetic how angry some of you are over this.

  17. Good for him!! Trade that money hungry lazeon bell to the worst NFC team.

    Giants fan here, nah, too expensive and we already have Odell and Barkley were good here, but I do here the niners are looking for an rb1.

  18. If Conner stinks it up this week the Steelers will be in a real bad spot. But if Conner is good they just may pull the offer. This is high stakes gambling for LeVeon. Be best sign the deal before the game.

  19. When Bell’s carrier is over he will realize that U can’t go back and make up the playing time he lost. Let’s C if he can make the money up that he lost when he comes back. This holdout crap is getting old. $855K a game?

  20. I am hoping Connor will have a HUGE game so that the Stoolers realize that they don’t need Me-Veon and they will trade his butt.

  21. If there just now thinking this, then they need more help than I thought. Steelers should have had this in there mind 1st day of the new season, they knew Bell wasn’t gonna be there unless he got paid, smh

  22. pastabelly says:
    September 5, 2018 at 5:34 am
    Bell is acting within his rights under the CBA. This is business.
    acting within your rights and being smart are 2 different things

  23. Huge bell fan and I’m a die hard jets fan. Sign the contract and get too work. Last year in Pitt you will make your money

  24. Bell is not under contract, so he cant be traded.
    Bell is under a franchise tag. He can sign it and play, or not sign it and sit. Thats his right under the CBA. If he wants to get credit for the year, he must play by week 10 or be in this boat again next year.
    The steelers rights under the CBA was to tender him that designation and gaureentee he be under their control for one more year.(they wont rescind that offer at this point)
    Over 2 years this man will have made close to 27 million.
    They wont franchise him a 3rd year.
    For those who think bell is risking injury and dollars by playing. It will be worse if he chooses to wait till week 10 to play and leave 8 million on the table and still potentailly get hurt plus be labeled a selfish player that will follow him into free agency. He’s already been suspended twice, has a surgically repaired knee and is 27 years old.
    Any contract he signs next year, he will likely not see all that money anyway.
    The smart move is sign the contract tomorrow, play the year, collect that 15 mil and try to win a Super Bowl. Then next year when hes a free agent look at the offers he has, compare the gaurenttee dollars to where you playing. And decide long term what’s gonna be best for his career.
    I suspect some dumb team will offer him 60 mil 5 years (30 mil gaurenteed) and I’m sure hes gonna take that offer, But he will never see that 5th year and maybe not the 4th year either.
    The steelers will offer 4 years 50 mil and gaurentee about 22 mil and keep him all 4 years. (Which he will decline)
    I think he will sign today, but the steelers will sit him week one and they will get him ready for KC.

  25. .
    The Patriots kept 4 RBs. Combined, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White will be paid less than Bell’s 14.5 million dollar tender.

  26. Bell’s number’s are going to suffer because of his attitude and he will not get paid as the top back because he is stubborn. If he doesn’t get game ready and proceeds to show team’s that he is both a risk to fail drug test’s and also is not ready for action for week one for the 2nd year in a row, he does not know how to separate business from bitterness. Gurley should be the highest paid and Bell himself is the one that proves it. Bell is not mature enough to set the running back market.

  27. Everyone keeps saying he’s protecting himself…. protecting himself from what? He has 14,500,000 reason to sign the contract. If he trips up the stairs this morning and fails his physical due to injury, he gets none! Then next year he’s another year older, another surgery… he won’t ever get that $14.5 million back.

  28. James Connor is not in Le’Veon’s league when it comes to pure talent. If Bell is available, he should play. All of the Steeler fans who say that this is a non-issue are deluded. If Bell isn’t playing, opponents have a better chance of defeating Pittsburgh.

  29. Bell isn’t bright enough to realize he’s only hurting himself. If Conner can come out and be almost as productive as Bell (which isn’t outside the realm of possibility) why would you even bother to pay Bell at all this year. It’s obvious he’s gone next year so why give him $14.5M when he’s going to be a malcontent the entire season. Of course they could also pay him and just put him on the inactive list all year. At this point he’s been childish by not reporting so if I were the Steelers front office I’d be done with him. I wouldn’t even let him on the premises. Just pay him to go home like the Bucs did with Keyshawn Johnson years ago. I am so sick of hearing stories about LeMeon Bell and his whining about ‘only’ making $14.5M. Go pound sand.

  30. James Connor average per carry is 4.5, that’s means the chains are moving on third down, do the math folks. Only need ten yards for a 1st down. Haha. The NFL is complex but sometimes go back to basics haha. Move the chains, touchdowns come with it.

  31. 6ball says:
    September 5, 2018 at 8:25 am
    The Patriots kept 4 RBs. Combined, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White will be paid less than Bell’s 14.5 million dollar tender.


    $14.5M a year is a lot to pay for a guy who will take himself out of a big game after getting smacked in the mouth a few times as Bell did in the AFCCG….

  32. The Steelers could be scary good if most of their best players weren’t “me first” guys only concerned with themselves.

  33. Pitt has a good O line. Connor could surprise the hell out of Steelers fans. As a Ravens fan I’d like to mention two names:

    Justin Forsett
    Alex Collins

    Whoever heard of these guys until they got their chance behind a decent (not great) O line. Bell is definitely overplaying his hand. He is RB not a QB. Give Connor a shot.

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