Le’Veon Bell has finally touched down in Pittsburgh, according to NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. Just days after posting a cryptic message in which he bade farewell to his vacation spot and training grounds away from the Steelers in Miami, the All-Pro running back was back on Twitter with some unapologetic words for his critics. And those words were reportedly delivered to his followers from a location not far off from the team’s facilities.
“Just about everybody has an opinion on my life and worried about what I’m doing. Don’t judge me off my decision because maybe this isn’t what you’d do,” Bell wrote in upside-down text on Wednesday evening, November 7.
Bell then continued on to call out fans who’ve refused to make an effort to consider his contractual situation from an angle that might help them empathize with him, before declaring that he sees no reason to feel sorry about the position he may have put the Pittsburgh Steelers in by holding out for the first 10 weeks of the season.
“I’m not going to apologize for what I believe is right for myself, family and the rest of my peers, period.”
The tweet echoed assertions he’s made in the past about having a willingness to be the sacrificial lamb that will open doors for future players of his caliber who may be given more generous offers, should the strategy prove to have spooked NFL owners who fear others taking a similar path.
˙˙˙ɯǝɥʇ uo ʎןɹɐǝןɔ s’ʇɐɥʇ &˙˙˙sǝuıן ǝɥʇ uǝǝʍʇǝq pɐǝɹ ʎןdɯıs ʇsnظ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ ǝʞɐʇ ʇ’uop ǝןdoǝd ʇsoɯ ʇnq˙˙˙op p’noʎ ʇɐɥʍ ʇ’usı sıɥʇ ǝqʎɐɯ ǝsnɐɔǝq suoısıɔǝp ʎɯ ɟɟo ǝɯ ǝbpnظ ʇ’uop˙˙˙buıop ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇnoqɐ pǝıɹɹoʍ & ǝɟıן ʎɯ uo uoıuıdo uɐ sɐɥ ʎpoqʎɹǝʌǝ ʇnoqɐ ʇsnظ— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) November 7, 2018
ʇuıod ʎɯ pǝʌoɹd ǝʌ’noʎ 'buıʎɐs ɯ’ı ʇɐɥʍ ʇno ǝɹnbıɟ oʇ ǝɯıʇ ǝɥʇ buıpuıɟ ʎןןɐǝɹ ǝɹ’noʎ ɟı osןɐ˙˙˙poıɹǝd 'sɹǝǝd ʎɯ ɟo ʇsǝɹ ǝɥʇ puɐ 'ʎןıɯɐɟ 'ɟןǝsʎɯ ɹoɟ ʇɥbıɹ sı ǝʌǝıןǝq ı ʇɐɥʍ ɹoɟ buızıboןodɐ ʇou ɯ’ı— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) November 7, 2018
While it has been confirmed that Bell is indeed in town, he has yet to have made contact with the Steelers organization. It is expected that he will be knocking on the doors of general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin within the coming days, but with Pittsburgh slated to take on the Carolina Panthers in this week’s Thursday Night Football matchup, there is absolutely no possibility that he’d be able to suit up for immediate action. In fact, the next step will involve Bell seeing a doctor in order to take a physical, and he might even face a potential hurdle, should Pittsburgh apply for a two-week roster exemption for him.
As NBC Sports noted in a recent report on his impending return, the filing of a roster exemption would result in Bell being able to join the team ahead of November 13, while temporarily sidelining him as they work him back into game-ready shape. November 13 is the deadline date he must arrive by in order for the season to count towards his free agency status. Should Bell fail to sign the franchise tag offer the Steelers have waiting for him by that date, they would still have rights to him heading into next season and may choose to slap the tag on him once again.
Things, however, might get tricky if the organization files a roster exemption, as Bell will need to sign it. That agreement will also have a pro-rated pay rate attached to it that Bell will basically need to accept for the remainder of the season.
That being said, in Bell’s absence, the Steelers have been experiencing abundant success with backup running back James Conner, whom the organization has pretty much tapped as the team’s future ball-carrier. Both sides appear to have leverage given the various factors involved at this point. Fans will just have to wait to see how it plays out as developments unfold.