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Speaking to ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Sunday NFL Countdown, Tomlin described the situation with Bell by saying the Steelers “need volunteers, not hostages.”
Dianna Russini @diannaESPN
“We need volunteers— not hostages” Mike Tomlin refreshingly honest on Bell and game ready to beat the Ravens #Steelers https://t.co/zDzFe8nsU5
It’s unclear when, or if, Bell will sign his franchise tender and report to the Steelers.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers hadn’t heard anything from Bell as recently as Oct. 21.
Bell has until Nov. 13 to report and get credit for a contract year so he can become a free agent in the offseason, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. If he chooses not to do that, the Steelers would be able to offer Bell the same $14.5 million franchise tag he received this year and try to trade him.
One reason Tomlin doesn’t need to worry about Bell’s absence is the emergence of James Conner. The 23-year-old ranks third in the NFL with 599 rushing yards and eighth among running backs with 323 receiving yards.