November 4, 2018 / 5:27 PM / 8 months ago

Steelers RB Bell approaching signing deadline

The Pittsburgh Steelers-Le’Veon Bell drama is heading toward a conclusion.

FILE PHOTO - Oct 18, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 25-13. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

According to multiple reports Sunday morning, representatives for the holdout Bell haven’t told the Steelers when, or if, the disgruntled running back will show up this season.

But the Steelers don’t have long to wait to learn of his decision.

The team slapped the franchise tag on Bell, which would have paid him $14.5 million this season, but he hasn’t signed the contract. He has until the Tuesday after Week 10 — Nov. 13 — to sign it in order to play this year. If he doesn’t sign, he must sit out the season under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Each week he sits, he forfeits $850,000. Bell has indicated he does not want to risk injury before he can sign a long-term deal with significant guaranteed money.

If he does report, the Steelers would use a two-week roster exemption and pay him a lower salary while they determine his fitness to play.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that no teams called the Steelers to inquire about a trade for Bell before the deadline last week.

Without Bell, the Steelers are 4-2-1 and atop the AFC North heading into Sunday’s game against division foe Baltimore. They’ve found a productive replacement in second-year running back James Conner, who leads the AFC in rushing with 599 yards. He has nine rushing touchdowns — the same number Bell had in 15 games in the 2017 season.

Last week, Conner, 23, was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month.

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