Non-Steelers Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell hasn’t said much publicly as his contract impasse with the team has reached Defcon 5 (or maybe it’s Defcon 1 . . . whichever is the bad one). He recently spoke privately to former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Based on Jones-Drew’s explanation of the conversation, it seems fairly obvious that Bell’s stance hasn’t changed much in the last week.
Specifically, Bell continues to be concerned about the possibility that, in what most likely will be his last year with the Steelers, Bell will be overused.
“[Bell] was happy for James Conner after that performance but that performance justifies why he’s not there right now,” Jones-Drew said on the Dave Dameshek Football Program earlier this week. “If you’re going to give James Conner 31 carries, imagine how many you’d give to Le’Veon Bell?”
Bell also told Jones-Drew that there’s nothing personal about an inherently business decision to stay away, avoiding excessive contact with a major payday looming.
“[Bell] said to me, ‘People think that I don’t like Pittsburgh, I don’t like James Conner, I don’t like these guys,'” Jones-Drew said. “He was like, ‘Yes, I was disappointed they went out and spoke about my contract,’ understandably so. He was like, ‘But I still want them to do well, they’re still guys that I work with and guys that I’ve put in this extra work with — blood, sweat and tears like I still want them to do well.'”
That last part is telling. “They’re still guys I work with.” This means that Bell indeed intends to return to work at some point. The only question is whether that comes before or after the Tuesday after Week 10, which represents his final deadline for showing up and playing this season.
Bell for now remains on track to give up $855,000 (gross not net) again this weekend in order to avoid the kind of workload that could result in the kind of injury that keeps him from cashing in. Under that analysis, he has no reason whatsoever to show up before the Tuesday after Week 10.