Le’Veon Bell is still unsigned for the 2017 season.  Is it possible he decides to holds out?

The start of training camp is just around the corner, but Le’Veon Bell is still not under contract for the Pittsburgh Steelers; the All-Pro running back has yet to sign the Franchise Tag that Pittsburgh placed on him back in February.  As a result of not being under contract for 2017, Bell was absent from both OTAs and mandatory mini-camp.

 Le’Veon Bell runs the ball as Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Vernon Harris (48) defends during the AFC Divisional playoff game. Photo by: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Steelers and Bell have expressed an interest in getting a long-term deal done before the season begins, however, they have been unable to come to an agreement.  Could this mean that Bell is preparing to hold out if he doesn’t receive the long-term contract he seeks?  It is possible, however, Bell has not indicated to anyone that he plans to hold out.

With both sides wanting to get a deal done, why hasn’t one been worked out yet?  Well, the Steelers say they want to sign Bell long-term, but I get the sense that the team would rather have him play out this year on the Franchise Tag and revisit the contract talks after the 2017-2018 season.  There is no doubt that Bell’s history of off-the-field troubles and proneness to injury remain a concern for Pittsburgh.  By having him play out this season on the Franchise Tag, the team would have an opportunity to evaluate Bell for one more year before deciding if he is worth a long-term investment.

Le’Veon Bell is one of the best players in the league and deserves to be paid as such, but the concerns surrounding him are warranted; over the past two seasons, the Michigan State product has missed six regular season games by way of suspension, and another nine games — including both regular season and playoffs — as a result of injury.  In the past, Pittsburgh likely would have cut ties with a player who carried this kind of baggage, but Bell is worth the headache.  There are few, if any, players more valuable their teams than Bell is to the Steelers, which is why the team continues to give him every opportunity to prove himself.

As for the possibility of a holdout, the Steelers have a history of taking care of their players and avoiding holdout situations.  I expect a similar scenario to occur with their star running back.