“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. “Coach [Mike] Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular-season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.”
Bell was absent from team activities since the deadline for teams to sign franchise-tagged players to an extension passed on July 16.
This is the second straight year he was absent during the preseason, but last year he reported on the Monday that preceded the regular-season opener.
The Steelers open the regular season on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, and now it is unclear whether he will be available for that game.
Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, released a statement and noted “this now likely will be Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.”
Last week, it was reported that Bell told teammates he would show up to sign his franchise tender on Monday. But, Bell later denied that the report was accurate.
Bell could lose up to $855,000 per game if he remains absent.
In last season’s opener against the Browns, Bell had just 32 yards rushing and three receptions for 15 yards. But, he finished the season with 1,291 rushing yards and 85 receptions for 655 yards. Bell was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time and was named All-Pro for the second time.