Le’Veon Bell will not be heading to the City of Brotherly Love. On Monday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Philadelphia Eagles have not and will not pursue a trade to acquire Bell, who last week told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he expects return to the Steelers during the team’s Week 7 bye week. Bell has yet to play this season after continuing his holdout into the 2018 regular season. Bell has forfeited over $3.41 million salary so far this season. The Steelers could elect to pay Bell his entire $14.5 franchise tag when he does sign his tender. Bell’s first game would be Pittsburgh’s Week 8 matchup at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Bell, 26, rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns along with catching 85 passes for 655 yards last season after playing under the franchise tag. Bell also remained healthy throughout the season, playing in 15 regular season games (Pittsburgh rested him for their Week 17 matchup against the Browns) along with amassing 155 total yards and two scores in the team’s divisional round matchup against the Jaguars. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, Bell has rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns while catching 312 passes for 2,660 yards and seven touchdowns. A three time Pro Bowler and two time All-Pro, Bell was named Pittsburgh’s team MVP in 2014 and 2016.
The Steelers offered Bell a reported five-year deal worth about $13.3 million per season during the 2017 offseason. Bell turned down the offer and instead played under the franchise tag that paid him $12.12 million (all guaranteed) last season. Bell and the Steelers were again unable to come to terms on a longterm deal this past offseason despite Pittsburgh offering Bell a reported five-year deal worth $70 million that included $33 million guaranteed and $45 million within the first three years of the contract. In February, Bell said on social media that, if the two sides could not come to terms on a longterm deal by the July 17 deadline that he would probably reprise what he did in the summer of 2017 by skipping training camp and the preseason before signing his tender before Week 1 of the regular season.
Bell, however, did not return to the Steelers before the start of the regular season. His decision not to return to the team in time to play in their Week 1 matchup against the Browns drew criticism from several of his teammates that included offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster. Some of Bell’s other teammates, specifically Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, have elected to avoid saying anything critical of Bell during his holdout. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, on numerous occasions, has said that Bell’s status on the team in terms of in-game participation would be based on his conditioning and overall readiness whenever he returned to the team.
The Steelers have reportedly been shopping Bell around in hopes of a trade. Last Sunday, it was reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that the Steelers were looking for a second round pick and a player for Bell, who would have to sign his tender before being traded to a new team. But now, with Pittsburgh’s Oct. 30 deadline to trade Bell inching closer, it appears that Bell may not be traded and will instead return to the Steelers midway through the 2018 season.