And while they would rather have Bell’s familiar No. 26 on the sideline when practice starts Friday, the guys blocking for him understand business is business.
“I’m not mad at him, I’m happy for the guy,” guard Ramon Foster said. “It’s an opportunity for Le’Veon to take care of his family for generations, so why not take care of it now?”
Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on Bell in the off-season, but was unable to find common ground for a long-term agreement.
General Manager Kevin Colbert tabled any talks of revisiting an extension until after the 2017 season.
Bell, who averaged more than 150 yards of total offense last fall, tweeted “I guess I just gotta get better” when the July 17 deadline passed without a new deal in place.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown isn’t concerned so much about Bell improving as much as he is about Bell simply getting to camp.
Brown, who signed a four-year, $72-million extension in February and strolled into camp in the back seat of a 1931 Rolls-Royce, isn’t sure Bell is making a point by holding out.
“I just understand the history of how these things work out,” Brown said.
“The Steelers never negotiate with civilians, especially when you don’t show up. The first rule of getting better is showing up. But I’m here, everyone’s here, you have to get the year started off on the right foot.”
Center Maurkice Pouncey offered to take a pay cut to help speed up the process.
“He can have some of my money,” said Pouncey, who signed a $44-million contract extension in 2014. “I’m totally fine with that. They can erase a year of my contract. I’m cool with just going out there and playing.”
Bell wants to reset what has been a stagnant (by N.F.L. standards) market for running backs in recent years.
While the 25-year-old is among the most versatile players in the league — Bell caught 75 passes in just 12 games last season — he has been suspended twice for…