Le'Veon Bell's holdout is approaching a deadline that would cost him $852,000 a week, and Steelers players are starting to turn on him

Kevin C. Cox/GettyLe’Veon Bell is still holding out with the first game days away.

  • Le’Veon Bell has continued holding out through training camp and preseason after failing to agree on a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Bell will miss $US852,000 for each week he doesn’t show up on the $US14.5 million franchise tag.
  • On Wednesday, several Steelers players criticised Bell for refusing to show up to camp with the first game just days away.

Le’Veon Bell has still not reported to the Pittsburgh Steelers just days before their first game of the season, and the situation is starting to get ugly.

For the second year in a row, the 26-year-old star running back has held out of training camp and preseason over failed contract negotiations after the Steelers extended him the franchise tag. This year’s tag is worth $US14.5 million.

Bell has until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to report to the team, or else he’ll be docked $US852,941 from his contract. He’ll lose the same amount each week he skips.

As the deadline nears, Steelers players seem to be losing patience. Veteran guard Ramon Foster on Wednesday ripped Bell as someone “who doesn’t give a damn.”

Likewise, veteran center Maurkice Pouncey seemed to be growing impatient with the uncertainty surrounding Bell.

Other Steelers players seemed to think Bell was going to show up this week.

On Wednesday, Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari suggested to Sirius XM that if Bell plays on a one-year deal, the Steelers will run him into the ground.

“You’re [Steelers GM] Kevin Colbert, you’re [head coach] Mike Tomlin – you have a possibly once-in-a-generation player for one more season. What would your plan be?” Bakari said.

Bakari said Bell plans to protect his long-term value, suggesting Bell would sit out games to avoid racking up more carries and miles on his legs.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported in July that the Steelers’ offer for Bell started at $US13 million per year and gradually increased over time. Bell wanted more.

The risk for Bell is entering free agency next offseason as a 27-year-old running back with a ton of miles on him or coming off a disappointing season. In an era when running backs have largely been devalued (Todd Gurley’s $US60 million contract notwithstanding), it may be difficult for Bell to exceed what the Steelers were offering, at least regarding contract length or guaranteed money.

In recent days, the Steelers have been praising the ability of second-year running back James Conner, who will become the lead ball-carrier while Bell holds out.

Where this may go is unclear. Bell could continue holding out, but would be forfeiting large chunks of salary each week he doesn’t show up. He needs to report by Week 11 to become a free agent next season. The Steelers could rescind the tag, making Bell a free agent, but according to Fowler, that’s unlikely.

If and when Bell does show up, he’s going to have some ground to make up with his teammates:

If Bell wants an assurance that he’s of value to the team, his teammates wouldn’t be ripping him if they didn’t want him to show up.

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