Mike Tomlin on Le'Veon Bell: 'We need volunteers, not hostages'

Mike Tomlin on Le'Veon Bell: 'We need volunteers, not hostages'

Since he's been gone, the Steelers have gone through stretches of dysfunctional play, but overall it's been okay in 2018; they sit atop the AFC North with a 4-2-1 record, which doesn't reflect the strides they've taken on and off the field in Le'Veon Bell's absence.

"You know, we haven't spent a lot of time focused on it, because it's not within our control", Tomlin said. "We need volunteers not hostages", Tomlin told ESPN's Dianna Russini on Sunday. Those decisions are Le'Veon's.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that Bell's holdout has reached the point where the Steelers officially have the option of using the transition tag on the star running back this offseason.

The Steelers now can place the transition tag on Bell after this season, which would allow Pittsburgh to match any offer sheet the running back receives.

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Tomlin addressed the emergence of Conner, who has been a revelation in his second season in the NFL.

Bell, who has until November 13, or the beginning of Week 11, to show up, play and gain an accrued season, might have another battle still to come with the Steelers. After reports of unrest and trade rumors leading up to the National Football League trade deadline, Bell is still on the team and can only play for the Steelers this season. If he does, Pittsburgh is not likely to use its franchise tag on Bell again this offseason, since a third consecutive franchise tag would be too cost prohibitive.

If he played under the transition tag with Pittsburgh, Bell's salary would be somewhere between $9 million to $10 million, or around $5 million less than the $14.54 million he would have received had he played this entire season on the franchise tag. Perhaps they were simply anxious that he would not report to them if they did trade for him. Landing a long-term mega-deal after sitting out this long may prove to be quite hard, given how his stance this season has been interpreted around the league, even if he manages to put up big numbers after a Pittsburgh return.

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