The Pittsburgh Steelers were missing one of their biggest stars during OTAs.
We are two weeks into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Organized Team Activities (OTAs), and all-world running back Le’Veon Bell has yet to see the practice field in 2017. Bell, who is a few months removed from groin surgery, has been at the team facility as recently as last week according to a report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
"Despite missing OTAs, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell visited the team facility on Thursday. He could be part of minicamp but it’s uncertain whether he would take the field as he recovers from offseason groin surgery. The Steelers have until July 15 to work out a contract extension or let him play on the franchise tag."
While the Steelers would obviously prefer to have Bell put in some work in OTAs ahead of the mandatory minicamp (which runs from June 13 to June 15), there is no reason for him to rush his return to the field given his injury history. Also, there has already been some casualties in OTAs around the league this summer, most notably Dennis Pitta and Tavon Young of the Baltimore Ravens expected to miss a significant amount of time due to a dislocated hip and a torn ACL respectively.
Whether or not Bell participates in workouts in June is not nearly as important to the team as getting the rookies acclimated to life in the NFL and seeing what they have in the other newcomers (such as Daimion Stafford and Senquez Golson, who is essentially a rookie). The Steelers know, as we all do, what Bell can bring to the table, so OTAs are not that important for him at this stage in his career.
What is important, however, is Le’Veon’s contract situation and whether or not he holds out of team activities in the future. July 15 is the deadline for the Steelers to extend Bell’s contract and if the two sides fail to reach an agreement by then, the running back would have to spend the 2017 season under the franchise tag. The team certainly has the cap space to extend him with $15.7 million available per another report by Fowler, but they also have to make some hard decisions with that money, whether it’s extending a seemingly injury-prone running back or focusing their resources on other positions.
With all of this in mind, the upcoming minicamp for Pittsburgh is sure to have a lot of intrigue in regards to Le’Veon Bell does (or doesn’t do) and it’s sure to be a storyline to keep your eyes on this offseason.