- Le’Veon Bell is reportedly set to end his holdout and return to the Steelers during the team’s bye in Week 7.
- Bell has been holding out in hopes of preserving his body to ensure he is healthy for a new contract.
- While Bell indicates he’s excited to return to football, some former players have suggested that Bell’s best move would be to fake an injury once he is back with the team to maintain his health.
After missing the first four games of the NFL season, Le’Veon Bell has finally set an end date for his holdout.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Bell will rejoin the Pittsburgh Steelers sometime before Week 8. The Steelers have a bye for Week 7 and host the Cleveland Browns in Week 8.
The news comes as a relief to Steelers fans, who have watched their team start the year a disappointing 1-2-1 in Bell’s absence.
Bell’s holdout has lasted this far into the season due to his interest in preserving his value for his next contract. After failing to reach a deal on an extension with the Steelers, Bell, 26, was set to play out the season on the franchise tag but chose instead to sit out the first half of the year to help ensure that he remains healthy before negotiations for his next contract.
“It sucks having to sit out football,” Bell told ESPN. “I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs. But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”
While Bell’s decision has certainly had its detractors, after the injury of Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who was also looking for an extension, it’s easy to see why sitting out makes the most sense for Bell.
But even with his return date reportedly set, some former NFL players have suggested that Bell might not wind up in the Steelers lineup, but instead, he could show up just to cash his checks.
Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison suggested an alternative plan for Bell to rejoin the team.
“If I’m Le’Veon … I’m coming back, what is it, Nov. 13?” Harrison said, during an appearance on FS1. “I’m going to go in there, I’m gonna get my credit this season that I need to get and I’m going to do the best I can to get out of this season healthy.”
“For me, I’d give you everything at practice. You’d see – the cameras would see – that I’m fine, I’m healthy. But come Saturday, ‘Something ain’t right. I can’t play on Sunday.’ Because if I go out here and I mess something up, I’m losing a lot of money.”
Harrison wasn’t the only former pro to bring up the idea of faking an injury. Joe Thomas, a former left tackle for the Cleveland Browns, said on ESPN “I wouldn’t be surprised if during his workouts he gets a little hamstring pull and then does not play in the next week and still collects the check.”
We won’t know how things will shake out until Bell is back with the Steelers, but it seems clear that even when he does return to the team, we won’t be sure of his playing status until he takes the field with the offence in a live game.
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