Steelers expect Le’Veon Bell to report next week, Art Rooney II says

After 10 weeks of uncertainty from Le’Veon Bell amid a holdout for a long term contract, the Steelers expect their star running back to report next week.

Bell has until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to join his team or he forfeits the 2018 season. But Steelers president Art Rooney II is confident Bell will report before the deadline, though there’s still some uncertainty of Bell’s plans.

“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say that at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Rooney said Thursday on Sirius XM radio. “We know he’s back in Pittsburgh, so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend. We’re kind of expecting he’ll be back next week.”

Bell has held out longer than any NFL player on a franchise tag and Rooney acknowledged the Steelers are in unknown territory. He didn’t have a definitive answer about what the CBA says as it relates to Bell’s franchise tag and what will happen if the running back doesn’t report.

“We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of, this really has never happen before as far as I know,” Rooney said. “So, there are questions that we may get to at the end of the season. We’ll cross those bridges when we get to them at the end of the season.”

Bell, who has lost $8.52 million because he has missed 10 weeks and has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tag, hinted he could soon rejoin the Steelers when he bid farewell to Miami in a cryptic tweet Monday. He was later spotted working out at L.A. Fitness in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Steelers have leaned on second-year running back James Conner, who is enjoying a breakout season in Bell’s absence.

Conner has produced a total of 1,158 yards and 10 touchdowns through the team’s first nine games.