Le’Veon Bell didn’t take a knee but instead stood his ground against the NFL. The All-Pro running back failed to report to Pittsburgh Steelers headquarters Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, the deadline for him to play this season on the franchise tag.

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“I want to confirm that Le’Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender today and, as a result, he will not be eligible to play football during the 2018 season,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.


By sitting the year out, Bell has forfeited the entirety of the $14.54 million he was scheduled to make on the franchise tag, plus a reported $200,000 more in benefits. He had already given up $8.55 million in salary by having avoided the Steelers during the season’s first 10 weeks.

Bell hasn’t been shy about sharing the reason for his no-show. The back feels that he’s being unfairly compensated by the Steelers. Rather than risk injury in the final year of his contract with the team, Bell opted to sit out and try his chances on the open market next year.

This is the part that’s going to be fascinating. A big part of the reason the Steelers tagged him in 2017 and again this season is because of how replaceable running backs have become in recent years. The league increasingly emphasizes the passing game, the rookie-wage scale has driven down costs at the position, there are general efficiency teams have found by using multiple backs, and most of the league’s elite backs haven’t yet reached a next-contract status in their careers.

Bell’s decision may have cost him some money now, but he knows his true value and will likely get the money he feels he deserves this winter.