Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell a no-show as deadline approaches


That marked the official end to the possibility of Bell playing this season, one that grew more remote with each passing week.

If you were a fantasy football owner who took Le'Veon Bell in the first two picks of your draft, or one who traded for the holdout Pittsburgh Steelers running back, then you might be reloading Twitter every five seconds to see if he'll finally report by 4 p.m. ET.

While TV cameras set up outside the team's practice facility on Tuesday to catch Bell if he chose to show up for work for the first time in almost 10 months, the 26-year-old never pulled up to the gates, ending - for now - one of the more unusual labor standoffs between a team and a player in the era of free agency. In his absence, second-year running back James Conner has thrived, totaling 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage in nine games as the Steelers have emerged as frontrunners in the AFC North. In support of the guy who replaced him, no less. He's been good enough to earn Bell's approval. The Steelers are unlikely to tag him for a third consecutive year, which would cost more than £15.4m, but some reports have said they plan to use the transition tag, which would cost around £7.71m while allowing Pittsburgh to match any offer Bell gets from another team.

Head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters earlier on Tuesday that he had no expectation as to whether or not Bell would report.

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"So be it", Tomlin said. He was sacked three times and hit on three other occasions en route to a 51 completion percentage.

Once again, the Steelers franchise-tagged Bell after the season. The flip side is that Bell won't enter free agency with an injury.

The Steelers explored dealing Bell before the October 30 trade deadline, but no deal was possible without his signature. Bell's replacement, James Conner, ranks second in the National Football League with 1,158 yards from scrimmage and has reached the endzone 11 times. He returned to Pittsburgh last week and even played some pickup basketball at a fitness centre.

Rocky franchise-tag negotiations created distance between Bell and the Steelers.