Le’Veon has been waiting on a long-term deal from the Steelers for what seems like ages, and earlier this summer it became clear that he was never going to get that offer. As Bell is set to enter free agency after the 2018 season, it is certain this this will be his last season with the Steelers, if he actually steps on the field.
As the NFL regular season is set to begin for the Steelers on Sunday, Bell was expected to report to training camp in the middle of this week after holding out for the entire preseason. Late on Wednesday, there was still no sign of Le’Veon Bell at Steelers training camp, which casted doubt on Bell’s chances to play week one vs. the Browns.
Following this, everyone started to speak out on Bell’s absence, including his agent, Adisa Bakari:
Le'Veon Bell's agent, Adisa Bakari, says his client will do "the things necessary to protect his value long-term."
Week one is probably already out of the picture…. his absence from the #Steelers could go even longer.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 5, 2018
If you’re asking me, this makes it sound like Le’Veon Bell may just sit out the entire season in order to ensure he gets a massive paycheck in 2019 free agency. I can’t believe the Steelers organization has allowed this to go on for so long without trading him elsewhere. If I were his teammate, I’d be disgusted by this, as some of the Steelers were. When asked about Le’Veon Bell today, the Steelers didn’t hold back.
More Ramon Foster on Bell: “He’s making 7 times what I make twice as much as Al (Villanueva) is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) September 5, 2018
Maurkice Pouncey is clearly DONE w/ Le’Veon Bell’s absence. Says he’d much prefer Bell just say when he’s going to show up, even if it’s Week 10: “Why play hide and seek? Why let your agent say this? Just man up and tell us what you’re going to do.”
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 5, 2018
David DeCastro wasn't happy with Le'Veon Bell's no-show: "We all thought he'd be here today. He makes us all kind of look stupid a little bit." @TheAthleticPGH
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 5, 2018
Le’Veon Bell’s offensive line sounds like they don’t even want him back this year, which means it’s time for the James Conner era in Pittsburgh. Conner is a hometown hero in Pittsburgh, as he grew up in Erie, PA, and went to the University of Pittsburgh. In his sophomore season at Pitt, Conner had 298 carries for 1765 and 26 touchdowns. He was then diagnosed with cancer in his junior season, beat it, and came back for his senior season to rush for 1092 yards and 16 touchdowns on 216 carries.
As a player who’s been an inspiration for football fans around the country, it will be amazing to watch James Conner start at running back for the Steelers. If you have a fantasy team, pick this guy up and start him immediately. Remember what De’Angelo Williams did while he was replacing Bell in 2015? If you don’t remember, Bell only played six games, and De’Angelo Williams put up 200 carries, 907 yards rushing, and 11 touchdowns to go along with 40 receptions for 367 yards for the season. He was ridiculous, and that was when Williams was 32 years old. Conner is only 23.
In addition, the Steelers have had nothing but good things to say about Conner. When talking about the state of the Steelers running back situation, center Maurkice Pouncey said, “A star is born every year in the NFL. Did anyone know Kareem Hunt would be an All-Pro before last season? If James Conner didn’t have cancer, he’d have been a first round pick. Just watch him.”
Since it’s officially James Conner time in Pittsburgh, so here’s a college highlight video to hype you up: