Oct 9, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Star Running Back Le’Veon Bell Ineligible for Rest of 2018 Season

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t show up to the deadline to sign his franchise tag. The deadline was on Tuesday at 4 p.m. As a result, Bell is no longer eligible to play football the rest of the season and missed out on the $14.5 million salary left on his tag. This process of holding out from the team has come to an end, with one of the NFL’s premier players now available in the upcoming free agency market after the 2018 season.

Bell’s Level of Production

Bell’s production last season is definitely worthy of a lucrative long-term contract. In 15 games, Bell finished with the 2nd-most yards from scrimmage in the entire league, with 1,946 combined rushing and receiving yards. He also had the 3rd-most rushing yards in the NFL in 2017 with 1,291. Bell’s production was at an elite level last year and anchored the offense. Although Bell’s absence will hurt, the Steelers do have a formidable option to take his place.

James Conner: The Next Man Up

Conner has put up tremendous numbers through nine games this season in place of Bell. Conner is 3rd in the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He’s in the same company with Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott if someone looks primarily at the stats. Conner has filled the role of a pass-catcher too, which plays a big role in the Steeler’s system. Conner and Bell also have similar running styles, shifting gears and patiently utilizing blockers.

Tomlin on Le’Veon Bell: “So be it.”

“I have no reaction.  I told you guys and I’ve told you guys consistently, a reaction comes from me if and when he walks in the door,” Steeler’s head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Until that happens, I’m business as usual and focused on folks that are here and working and appropriately so. That way I don’t waste my time and theirs.”

When asked if Bell never shows up, Tomlin responded with “So be it.”

Looking Ahead

The Steelers next game is against the Jacksonville Jaguars this upcoming Sunday at 1 p.m. EST. This game was moved from a Sunday night football slot after the Jaguars went on a massive losing streak.

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