James Conner has made it much easier for Steelers to forget about Le’Veon Bell

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The regular-season holdout of Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell banked in many respects on the Steelers not being able to replace him. But replace him they have, with second-year standout James Conner, the AFC’s offensive player of the month for October. And the stellar performances of Conner, a fan favorite before he even wore a Steelers jersey for the first time due to his connection to Pitt and his triumph over cancer, have made it much easier for the Steelers to forget about Bell.

“Honestly, no one cares anymore,” guard David DeCastro said after Sunday’s win over the Ravens, via Jeff Chadiha of 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?”

That’s been the attitude within the organization for several weeks, thanks in large part to the play of Conner. Indeed, if Conner currently weren’t getting it done and no one else was fueling the running game or the short passing game, there would have been a much greater sense of urgency to offer Bell more than $855,000 per week to get him to commit for the balance of the season.

As it stands, the attitude is “Le’Veon who?”

I love playing with Conner,” left tackle Alejandro Villanueva said after the win, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I don’t have anything to say about Le’Veon. I don’t even know what shape he is in right now.”

Right now, Bell has eight days to show up or not at all for 2018. The Steelers may prefer that he stay away. If/when he shows, it could get awkward — especially if he’s not reinstalled as the starter unless and until Conner gets injured or becomes noticeably ineffective.

69 responses to “James Conner has made it much easier for Steelers to forget about Le’Veon Bell

  1. they need to pull the tag from bell

    that being said, when bell does come back its going to be a cluster and both he and bell will have fantasy relevance but certainly not the lions share of pts connor has been getting….it will be missed

  2. “Honestly, no one cares anymore,” guard David DeCastro said after Sunday’s win over the Ravens”

    Whatever support Bell had in the locker room seems to be long gone. Can’t blame the other players in the slightest

  3. Leveon Bell gave up $14.5 Million dollars on principle.

    For reference – in order to qualify to be in the top 1% earners in this country you need to make $400k/year. If you made that for your career over 35 years you would earn $14 Million dollars.

    So – LB gave up in a year what it takes the top 1% to make in a lifetime.

    Process that one….

  4. With all the drama aside, when Le’veon Bell does show up, the Steelers will be an even better team with him coming back into the fold and the rookie Conner playing well already.

  5. I think Le’Veon made the right gamble here, but boy did this blow up in his face. Conner ending up being more productive than he was the previous year is the worst possible outcome for him.

  6. @thinredline69 saying that Bell lost this bet is the height of stupidity. Someone else taking his place on the Steelers does not mean he lost his bet. Some desperate team (Jets) is still going to throw a stupid amount of GTD money at him this offseason.

  7. truthprofessor says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:25 am
    Hilarious if and when Bell comes back and just sits

    ————-

    That’s what he would prefer. Show up. Do nothing. Collect the balance of his 2018 paycheck. Become a UFA and sign a huge contract.

  8. Bell should sign the tender immediately. I doubt the Steelers will play him much, if at all. Its Free money.

  9. James Jackson says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:30 am
    With all the drama aside, when Le’veon Bell does show up, the Steelers will be an even better team with him coming back into the fold and the rookie Conner playing well already.

    ————

    Conner isn’t a rookie.

  10. Last offseason, Bell threatened retirement and a hold out if he were tagged again. This fiasco is 100% on the Steelers GM for just assuming he could strong arm Bell again and expect him to show up. Letting him walk would’ve been the right move for everyone.

  11. I would change the title …

    Mike Munchek has made it much easier for Steelers to forget about Le’Veon Bell.

    No disrespect to Conner, or Bell. Understand I am a lifetime Steelers fan. I love a good running game. I liked Bell and think he is a talented runner. I like Conner and think he is a talented runner. They would be good players on any team.

    Behind this O-Line, they are the best runners in the business.

  12. Why is there a question of whether or not Bell is coming back. We all know if he doesn’t sign by week 10 he won’t get credit for full season participation. If that happens then the Steelers own him for another year and this starts all over again. He will come back.

    The real question is how the Steelers handle it once he signs. Do they bench him to show support for the current locker room or do they take a business angle and make him the bell cow till the end of the season to save the wear and tear on Conner.

  13. billvick111 says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:30 am
    I think Le’Veon made the right gamble here, but boy did this blow up in his face. Conner ending up being more productive than he was the previous year is the worst possible outcome for him.

    ——————–

    This was never the “right gamble”. Even if Conner sucked (hard to do behind that line and with those passing weapons), the Steelers were never giving him a better deal (and in fact could not before next year even if they wanted to).

    There has never been a way for this bet to pay off. Bell could have done his best financially by taking an extension in 2017. Followed by taking one in 2018. Followed by signing his tag in September and being a free agent. Bell has chosen the route of least compensation by valuing himself with his ego.

  14. Steelers need to pull the tag immediately. Whatever compensation they were hoping to get isn’t worth the distraction(s) of having Bell in the locker room with a $855k/week expenditure. He’s not in Pittsburgh’s long-term plans so why let Bell have any leverage in this stand-off? Bell’s only motivation is $$ so I would doubt another team would sign him for close to the $855k/week AND expect him to pick-up a new system in last 6 weeks of season. Gamble failed…

  15. People love to get high on a player after few good games. Connor has been good for half a season. Bell has been good consistently.

  16. Le’Veon Bell has made it much easier to forget about Le’Veon Bell.

    Someone will sing him – but he’s never going to recoup the money he’s lost, and he’s not going to get near as much as he thinks he’s going to get.

    I’m not going to cry for him, though – nor should anyone else. He’s already made – and will continue to make – plenty of money.

  17. At this point there’s roughly $7 million in game checks on the table in exchange for the risk of a dreaded catastrophic career ending injury (preventing him from obtaining the big pay day) vs. holding out for the year and potentially signing a gigantic long-term deal elsewhere with, conceivably, ton’s of guaranteed money. Love him or hate him, from the money perspective, I can’t help but side with him. Think Earl Thomas…

  18. If Bell signs within 8 days the Steelers will get a 2 week exemption and not pay him while he gets into shape. If Bell refuses to full participate the team can suspend him for a week or two without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. At that point there are only 4 games left.

    The Steelers will not pull the tag this year because they are then walking away from a potential 3rd round comp pick. Also, all of Bell’s 2018 salary from during the holdout rolls into 2019. Next year Bell is off the books, Shazier too, freeing up over 30m between those two players alone.

  19. Bell will come in and sign, unless the tag is withdrawn. If it is withdrawn, he signs with the Patriots for the balance of the season, which would not be good news for anyone except the Patriots. So the Steelers will pay him for the balance of the season. He will not replace Connor at RB, but they are still looking for a third receiver, and Bell is a very good receiver. He could help the team. Or they could lock him in a closet for the rest of the season and avoid screwing up the team chemistry.

  20. Bell won’t report. If he does, he’ll be so out of shape he can’t play.

    It would be kind of funny if they played him anyway just to highlight how badly out of shape he is.

    If he doesn’t report, Steelers won’t tag him again. They’re sick of this rodeo.

    And no team will sign him to a huge Gurley like contract if he’s a FA. Not even close.

  21. They can save $15 million or more per year, and spend it on some defensive players, if they let Bell go, either as a free agent or via trade. They can be a better team without Bell. Some of the games they lost early in the season were due mainly to a less than effective defense.

  22. It’s simple. Don’t mess with the Steelers front office. You won’t win. Conner is now a part of this offense if not the permanent future starter. A part of me still would like to see a 1-2 punch with Conner and LB the rest of the season.

  23. “The real question is how the Steelers handle it once he signs. Do they bench him to show support for the current locker room or do they take a business angle and make him the bell cow till the end of the season to save the wear and tear on Conner.”
    ———————-

    If I were the Steelers and he came back. He would be benched. Must send a message to players who want to hold out. Do not reward bad behavior.

  24. At this point there’s roughly $7 million in game checks on the table in exchange for the risk of a dreaded catastrophic career ending injury (preventing him from obtaining the big pay day) vs. holding out for the year and potentially signing a gigantic long-term deal elsewhere with, conceivably, ton’s of guaranteed money. Love him or hate him, from the money perspective, I can’t help but side with him. Think Earl Thomas…

    _______________________________________________________________

    I’m not an insurance agent so the cost might be prohibitive, but I would’ve signed the Tag, played, made $14M, and took out a huge insurance policy with that money for a catastrophic injury. Then he could have walked with a lot of money in his pocket to a new team in free agency or had his career ended he got his huge payout from the insurance if a career ending injury happened.

    This is money lost and a year lost to father time. Say what you want, but the CBA allows this to play out exactly the way it has. People that are pissed at the Steelers need to also look at the players that accepted this in the CBA.

    Time to get back to making peanuts like Bell is currently making except I’m not jet skiing in Flordia.

  25. truthprofessor says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:25 am
    Hilarious if and when Bell comes back and just sits

    —————–

    maybe. but don’t expect this guy to sit quietly. he would likely become completely/totally disruptive. and he’s already been enough of a distraction. certainly(?) the steelers have already mapped out on an exit plan if he shows up.

  26. Le’Veon Bell has clearly overestimated his value to the Steelers, or anybody el;se for that matter. Plus he’s already forfeited nearly $8 million in salary when he and the Steelers were only $2 million apart to begin with.
    He’s not the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer.

  27. greenandblue63 says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:53 am
    People love to get high on a player after few good games. Connor has been good for half a season. Bell has been good consistently.

    ———————-

    Before Conner when Bell would get SUSPENDED or HURT (a frequent occurence) an aging DeAngelo Williams would play, and be just as productive as Bell or Conner.

    The consistent excellence it the pittsburgh o-line. Bell is talented, Conner is talented, but 30ish backs could have big numbers on that offense with that workload.

    The real lesson isn’t Conner. Its that Bell is not as special as he thinks he is, and at his age, will not be paid like he expects.

  28. The Pittsburgh Rusty nails were obviously prepared for this to happen and a young guy who is hungry to make real money stepped up and took over; the greedy has been has given up many millions for his principles. Considering that he’d have to make at least $14 million a year to just be where he wanted to be, he’d have to add what he lost to that to command what his greed told him to do. Effectively if he thinks he can play five more years, he’d have to earn $17 million plus just to break even had he also earned $14 million in the years after signing the franchise tag. I don’t see this guy ever making himself whole. So glad his greed got to him.

  29. I say, when Bell returns and gets into game shape, you run him into the ground and see where you go, then let him walk…Next year, throw a nice contract Connor’s way and use the remainder of what they would have paid Bell, who will never recoup the millions he has lost, towards some additional defensive help.

  30. chickensalad43 says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:42 am
    Last offseason, Bell threatened retirement and a hold out if he were tagged again. This fiasco is 100% on the Steelers GM for just assuming he could strong arm Bell again and expect him to show up. Letting him walk would’ve been the right move for everyone.
    _________________________________
    BS – The Steelers Offered Bell a great contract last year but it wasn’t good enough for him. He chose not to sign it. The teams only recourse to keep the player is to franchise him. It was 100% the right thing to do. He is within his right to stay out. That’s the deal the owners and players made. Bell played this wrong. He isn’t getting paid and his holdout is absolutely reducing his value. He won’t ever get paid like Gurley and the holdout is part of why he won’t.

  31. The Steelers didn’t exactly win…they still had to account for $14.5 million in cap space(you hae to have the room if you franchise someone). The effected their roster. It’s wasted space when you could have had productive players.

    They should have just let him go and took the compensatory pick.

  32. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    November 5, 2018 at 12:56 pm
    Bell wont come back…he’ll have his agent negotiate the lost 2018 money into his next contract with his new team. Cant get hurt NOW by coming back to Pittsburg
    __________________________________
    LOL – How….. is that going to happen. His new team next year isn’t going to give him back pay. They are going to offer him a contract for his future services. His lost wages are gone. Steelers should absolutely sit him down for two games. Then make a determination I feel they even want him around. If they don’t healthy scratch him until the season is over. Cutting him or pulling the tag would be done.. he could sign with an AFC competitor this year. Naw – Bell screwed the pooch on this one.

  33. I know the Steelers. If Bell comes back he will play back up to Conner unless Conner starts to struggle.

  34. SexyRexy5000 … true, but as I understand it, each Gamecheck Bell does not cash is unused salary cap that adds to how much they can spend next year. As long as they are playing well without Bell, and presuming they end up with a 3rd round compensatory pick in 2020, the Steelers seem to be coming out of this pretty darn well.

  35. greenandblue63 says:
    November 5, 2018 at 11:53 am
    People love to get high on a player after few good games. Connor has been good for half a season. Bell has been good consistently.

    ————-

    Really? Go back and look at Bell’s stats in the biggest game of his career….the AFCCG. He took himself out for the game after getting punched in the mouth a few times.

  36. I’d forgotten about what’s-his-name even before Conner turned out to be such a great addition to the team. Now I’m just waiting for everyone else to forget about him.

  37. tavisteelersfan says:
    November 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    SexyRexy5000 … true, but as I understand it, each Gamecheck Bell does not cash is unused salary cap that adds to how much they can spend next year. As long as they are playing well without Bell, and presuming they end up with a 3rd round compensatory pick in 2020, the Steelers seem to be coming out of this pretty darn well.
    ————————–

    There are no cap ramifications, unless he signs the franchise tender, are there?

  38. Walked away from millions of dollars.

    Gave up a year of competition right in his prime.

    Whether it’s right or not, Conner’s performance might have some teams wondering if maybe Bell is a product of the offense and beastly O-Line.

    But hey, at least whoever signs him next year will be getting a sick SoundCloud rapper.

  39. “@thinredline69 saying that Bell lost this bet is the height of stupidity”

    ———–

    Strange. I would say not signing a mutlimillion dollar offer for one year’s work and ticking off the people who help you earn that money is the height of stupidity.

  40. It would be nice to see him come back. He might learn something about what it feels like to be second string riding the bench. See if it helps any contract negotiation next year.

  41. I guess the plan now is to free him at the end of the year and hope for a compensatory 3rd rounder in 2020?

  42. Bell is young enough to get one Gurley-sized contract, and it will be in a bigger media market. He could not have played himself into more money, because he played at an elite level last year. He could have played himself into a worse contract, or been injured. He did not cost himself 855k per week, because he would have lost half that in taxes plus probably taken out a very expensive policy on himself for those games. I have not gotten the impression from what I’ve read that he was hoping Conner would fail. That doesn’t seem to be the point. He felt that Pittsburgh was going to run him into the ground on the Tag and let him go with a lower value from the wear and tear, and a high risk of injury, and nothing about Conner’s success changes that(the argument that Bell was a product of system/o-line gets a boost, yes, but it was already there).

    Seems he made a good decision still. Guess we’ll see.

  43. The Steelers might be able to ‘Quit it & Forget It’ Le’Veon, but Bell will be missing the Steelers! There’s a reason both both Williams & Conner performed at a similar level as Bell, because it’s the O-line, QB, Receivers, Defense stopping opposing teams & giving the offense more chances…the whole package. Bell will miss Pittsburgh!

  44. If you are a fan of a team that is in competition w/Pitt you hope Bell comes back because he will not idly sit by. He will become a distraction. He is such a strong personality that he very well could bring other players down w/him

  45. If Bell comes back, I hope they leave him as the backup and ask him to play special teams. Backup RBs typically have to play on the special team units.

  46. The.Steelers are just have the best organization in the NFL. They exchange players like parts on a assembly line, and keep their coaches for long tenures. I am thoroughly impressed with the Steelers.

  47. 49ersfury says:
    November 5, 2018 at 3:07 pm
    The.Steelers are just have the best organization in the NFL. They exchange players like parts on a assembly line, and keep their coaches for long tenures. I am thoroughly impressed with the Steelers.

    ————-

    The Steelers are one of the best run organizations in the NFL. They generally make good business decisions and build for the long haul. I do question why they have held onto a head coach that can’t seem to motivate his team against strong opponents but the organization’s long term success speaks for itself.

  48. Basically the Steelers are risking having to pay 855K per game to a malcontent all in order to get a 3rd round compensatory pick.

    Maybe it’s worth it.

    If he doesn’t come back, do they re-do the whole fiasco next year and set aside another 15M from the cap? Or do they let him go. Not like anyone is going to trade picks for the right to sign him to Gurley like money. (which he’d probably see as inadequate anyway).

  49. LeVeon underestimated the value of that Pittsburgh offensive line. Not easy to put up big stats when you’ve got perennial Pro Bowlers in DeCastro and Pouncey and a Pro Bowl LT. No disrespect to James Conner.

    The Steelers also kind of took an L here by not trading him. Could have recouped the 2nd round pick you drafted him with.

  50. Most teams would buy an extra 3rd for 6 million-ish.

    In this case, they also at the least get a hedge on Conner’s health in a season with playoff aspirations. Or they can ease Conners workload and overwork Bell to spite him.

    Bell may be a malcontent, but he’s also a pending free agent, and after the show Conner has put on, he would need to be productive if the Steelers put him out there, or his comp will drop even lower.

    As for if he doesn’t come back, sure, keep him tagged to send the message you cant whine your way out of town, but then pull the tender right around the draft if you havent managed to trade him.

    Just long enough for other teams to make their plans and to foul up his FA bidding war.

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