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With Le’Veon Bell suggesting he would return to Pittsburgh in Week 7
Odds of trading Le’Veon Bell to the Eagles dramatically improved on Monday While the chances of the Pittsburgh Steelers trading Le’Veon Bell before the October 30 deadline always seemed unlikely
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, circumstances may have changed enough over the past 48 hours or so to make that dream a reality in 2018. Hours after it had been announced that the Philadelphia Eagles had placed running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve with an ACL injury, it was also reported that they had restructured the contract of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Having created an additional $6.5 million in salary cap space with this move, the Eagles are now in a position to absorb Bell’s remaining contract when this figure is added to the $4 million in cap room they already had available.However, for those of you already packaging Bell up to send on his way, Adam Schefter of ESPN suggests you slow your roll.That being said, this report runs contrary to several from Jason La Canfora of CBS, who has written a number of articles in the past few weeks suggesting significant interest from Philadelphia in Bell.Should the Steelers’ star running back return at some point in Week 7, he would first need to sign his franchise tag
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, a move that would fix one of the stumbling block of facilitating a trade. Bell would still need to agree to being traded, but an incentive would be the possibility to earn an extra paycheck in 2018 and play in one less game, with the Eagles set to have a their bye in Week 9. A prospect that would surely be appealing to him.At first, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was the one pushing the speculative rumors about Pittsburgh’s interest in trading Bell, but it is interesting to note he has cooled somewhat on the idea as of late. Rapoport’s latest “update” on Sunday morning implied the Steelers’ absentee back had no interest in being traded after all, even if he didn't strictly rule it out.After sending a fourth round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for Ajayi in 2017, a player who is out of contract at the end of this season, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Eagles could decide to do a similar thing this year. An indifferent start to the season for the defending Super Bowl champions, thanks in part to a struggling rushing attack
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, could make Bell seem like an obvious short term fix. For an organization that appears to have little regard for the value of draft picks, burning another one on an elite running back might not be the worst decision they have ever made either.When Bell is still on the Steelers’ roster come November, the lesson to be learned here will be to never listen to wild rumors from the national media that you always thought sounded ridiculous, even if you did secretly hope they would turn out to be true. If Le'Veon Bell is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers later this month, he hasn't let his teammates and coaches know.Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he hasn't heard from the All-Pro running back, who told ESPN on Monday that he will end his standoff with the team around Pittsburgh's bye week, which begins after the Steelers face the Bengals on Oct. 14."I have not talked to Le'Veon and I really have no Le'Veon update," Tomlin said. "It's the best approach for us to focus on the guys which are here and working ... we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Nothing has changed in that regard."Bell is in the midst of an extended absence as an act of self-preservation when he and the Steelers could not reach a long-term agreement after Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on him in the spring.Technically he is not holding out because he has yet to sign his one-year deal, a decision that is costing him more than $850
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,000 a week. Bell did not offer a specific date for his return, but if he comes in around Oct. 15 it would give him two weeks to show the coaching staff what he can do before the Steelers play Cleveland on Oct. 28.The two-time defending AFC North champions have slumped during Bell's self-imposed sabbatical. Pittsburgh is 1-2-1 a quarter of the way through the season thanks in large part to sluggish starts that have forced them to play from behind and abandon the running game. The Steelers ran for 19 yards on 11 carries in a loss to Baltimore on Sunday night.Several of Bell's teammates — particularly the offensive line — expressed frustration in early September when Bell opted not to rejoin the team in time for the opener, as he did in 2017. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hopes Bell gives Pittsburgh a much-needed jolt, but isn't exactly expecting Bell to show up and save the day, whenever that day actually arrives."If (Bell) can come back and help us and be ready to go, then we'll be ready to welcome him back," Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan. "A lot of things were said earlier in the year, but that's kind of in the past and we've moved on, and hopefully he's moving on in the sense of getting back and ready to be with us."Bell's actual physical readiness is unknown. During the summer of 2017 he flooded his social media accounts with video of draining workouts. He was merely OK in his first 2017 appearance but quickly took off after that
, eventually leading the NFL in touches and piling up 1,946 total yards.Concerns over his usage rate in 2018 perhaps hurting his value on the open market in 2019 played a role in Bell's unprecedented move to remain away while the Steelers got off to their worst start since they dropped the first four games in 2013, his rookie season.That was also the last year Pittsburgh missed the playoffs. Though it's still too early to panic, the way the Steelers have been losing has drawn major red flags for Tomlin. The defense is 30th in the league in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed and the offense can't seem to get it going before finding itself in a hole. Pittsburgh has been outscored 42-6 in the first quarter this season."We've got to get out of the gate quicker," Tomin said. "You can't spot people points in the National Football League. We've got to do a better job of starting game on both sides of the ball."NOTES: The Steelers placed CB Nat Berhe on injured reserve with a torn pectoral and promoted CB Brian Davis from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. ... WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (ankle) and ILB Vince Williams (hamstring) will be monitored this week and could play against Atlanta. ... CB Mike Hilton (right elbow) and S Morgan Burnett (groin), both of whom did not play against Baltimore, may be available to face the Falcons.
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