Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell reportedly plans to show up next week, signing his franchise tender and rejoining the team. But two important issues must be resolved before he can put pen to paper.
First, the Steelers must decide whether they’ll seek a roster exemption for Bell. Second, if they do, the Steelers and Bell will have to reach a written agreement as to what he’ll be paid while on roster-exempt status.
As explained at the time, once the roster cuts to 53 occur, a franchise-tagged player and his team must agree in writing to his compensation while on roster-exempt status before he signs the tender. If they can’t strike a deal, the player’s only option is to not sign the tender.
In early September, before it became clear Bell wouldn’t be showing up before the first game of the regular season, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he believes the Steelers already had applied for a roster exemption for Bell. Team spokesman Burt Lauten then informed the media that the team believes it can’t apply for a roster exemption until Bell signs the tender.
But the tender can’t be signed until there’s a written agreement as to what Bell would receive while exempt from the roster, for up to two weeks. So the dog may end up chasing it’s tail on this one, soon.
Meanwhile, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has raised a good point regarding Bell’s overall situation. If there’s going to be a two-week roster exemption (and, possibly, reduced pay for Bell), Bell should sign the tender on Friday and make his Week Six game check (whatever it may be) the first of two checks that may be lower than the $855,000 per week he’s due to make under the rules of the franchise tag.
Whenever Bell plans to sign the tender, the process may be more complicated than simply showing up and securing the right to $855,000 per week for the balance of the season. The roster exemption issue will need to be addressed, with his compensation for those two weeks the biggest wild card.