The situation between the Pittsburgh Steelers and no-show running back Le’Veon Bell is a mess, but retired linebacker James Harrison thinks he has a solution.
Faking an injury.
The Steelers and Bell have been unable to agree on a long-term contract for the last two seasons. In 2017, the team placed the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl player, who sat out during training camp and preseason but played in every regular-season game except for the meaningless finale.
This year, the Steelers again placed the franchise tag on Bell, who again sat out during training camp and preseason. But three games into the regular season, Bell still hasn’t signed his franchise tender and remains absent from the team.
In an interview earlier this month, Bell’s agent suggested his client is concerned about being overworked by the Steelers this season, which could negatively affect his earning potential as a free agent in 2019.
That’s where Harrison’s solution comes in. Realizing that Bell needs to report to the Steelers by Week 11 in order to become a free agent next year, Harrison said Wednesday on Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed”:
“I think the play for Le’Veon, if I’m Le’Veon, is I’m coming back — what is it Nov.13? — and I’m going to go in there, I’m going to get my credit for the season I need to get, and I’m going to do the best I can to get out of that season healthy. And, for me, I’d give you everything in practice, you would see — the cameras would see that I am fine, I am healthy. But come Saturday, something ain’t right, I can’t play on Sunday. Because if I go out here and I mess something up, I’m losing a lot of money.”
In other words, why risk a real injury during a game when Bell can just fake one and assure himself of staying healthy?
Harrison played nearly all of his 15-year career with the Steelers. The five-time Pro Bowler didn’t hide his displeasure with the lack of playing time he was receiving in 2017 and was eventually released by the Steelers toward the end of the season. He ended up signing with the Patriots and playing in a fourth Super Bowl before announcing his retirement this offseason.
He said Wednesday that the Steelers might be better off similarly cutting ties with Bell as well.
“When he gets back in there, there’s going to be some friction,” Harrison said. “So instead of making more fuss than what it is, just let him go.”