Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell plans to play in 2018, but said he’s approaching this offseason like he did in 2017.
So don’t expect him to report until right before the regular season starts unless he gets the long-term contract he continues to seek.
Bell told fans during an Instagram Live chat Wednesday night that he won’t miss games if asked to play after being franchise tagged for the second consecutive year. The Steelers tagged Bell on Tuesday as a one-year placeholder worth $14.544 million. The team owns his rights, and both parties have until July 16 to work out an extension.
“I’m not going to sit out. I’m going to be in the facility Week 1,” Bell said. “It’s going to be a rerun of last year. I’m not going to camp. I’m not doing nothing else extra, OTAs, none of that.
Bell skipped every offseason workouts and training camp last year as a result of the tag.
“I’m going to strictly go to what I have to go to. I want to win every game,” he said. “I want to have the best statistical career that I possibly can, so I want to play in every game that I can possibly play.”
Bell told ESPN on Monday that retirement is still an option, or that the Steelers might not see him until Week 10, the deadline for picking up an accrued season and ensuring eligibility for 2019 free agency.
Bell has been outspoken about his negotiations with the Steelers, who recently increased their offer from last year that was worth, according to Bell, $13.3 million per year.
But Bell said he wants at least $14.5 million annually on a new deal, with a goal of sparking a once-fruitful running back market.
Bell pointed out in his chat that Adrian Peterson’s record-breaking $100 million contract was signed in 2011. Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman currently averages the highest salary ($8.25 million) among running backs with multi-year deals.
When asked directly about staying with the Steelers, Bell said that’s what he wants.
“Yes, I am going to stay in Pittsburgh,” Bell said. “For one, I don’t have an option. For two, I want to stay in Pittsburgh. So the ultimate goal is to get that done. That’s just the way business goes, so who really knows what’s going to happen?”