FOXBORO, Mass. — The Pittsburgh Steelers are bound for yet another playoff appearance, an accomplishment they’ve put themselves in position to achieve despite being without one of their best players in recent seasons.
Le’Veon Bell opted to forfeit $14.5 million in he would have earned for the 2018 campaign via failing to report to the Steelers by the Nov. 14 deadline. This wasn’t the first time the star running back and Pittsburgh have been at odds about contract negotiations, and all signs point to Bell finding a new home for the 2019 season.
There’s no doubt Bell’s presence could have taken the Steelers’ already high-powered offense to new heights, but Mike Tomlin certainly isn’t dwelling on the “what if?” When asked Wednesday on a conference call with New England Patriots reporters if he misses Bell, the Steelers head coach kept it short and sweet.
“No,” Tomlin said.
Bell’s absence hasn’t really been felt, as second-year pro James Conner has proven he’s more than capable of being a dual-threat feature back. Not to mention, Bell’s season-long holdout is something the Steelers were prepared for.
“From OTA 1, he wasn’t a part of us,” Tomlin said. “It’s not something that this group of men have missed. It’s a part of business, unfortunately, at this level. We all know and understand it. We’ve been focused on the people that have been here and working.”
Pittsburgh could be forced to turn to rookie back Jaylen Samuels on Sunday, though, as Conner’s status for the matchup against the Patriots remains up in the air.
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Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports