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Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell confuses many with Instagram chat

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 9:45 p.m.
The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell tries to keep his balance against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017.
The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell tries to keep his balance against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017.

Le'Veon Bell held a live chat with fans Wednesday night on his Instagram account so he could clear up any confusion about his contract demands.

All the Steelers running back did was muddy the situation further during his 30-minute session.

Bell answered a question by saying he would not sit out during the season, but stated he would repeat his stance from 2017 when he skipped training camp before signing his franchise-tag tender a week before the start of the regular season.

In the next breath, Bell indicated he might not take the field until Week 4.

Unless the Steelers and Bell can agree to a long-term contract by July 16, he will play under the franchise tag for the second year in a row, this time making $14.54 million.

“Honestly, no, I'm not going to sit out,” Bell said. “I'm going to be in the facility Week 1. It's going to be a rerun of last year. I'm not going to (training) camp. I'm not doing nothing else extra, OTAs, none of that.

“I'm going to strictly go to what I have to go to. I want to win every game. I want to have the best statistical career that I possibly can, so I want to play in every game that I can possibly play.”

A day earlier, in an article released by Billboard.com, Bell said he would consider sitting out until Week 10. Under NFL rules, Bell would have to report by then so he could accrue a full season and become a free agent in 2019.

“Me saying I was going to sit out was more emotional at the time,” Bell said, in reference to the Billboard article. “When I was asked the question, that's the way I felt at the time. I might come in Week 1. I might come in Week 4. I don't know what week I'm going to come in, but I'm going to play this year, though.

“I'm going to play. I just don't know when I'm going to play.”

Bell also expressed optimism he and the Steelers can agree to a long-term contract. Last year, the Steelers thought they had a deal in place in July, but Bell rejected it at the last minute.

“Hopefully, when it comes down to it, we won't have to deal with (sitting out),” Bell said. “We'll get a deal done. That's the biggest thing. We want to get a deal done. … If not, I'll handle it from there, but I definitely won't be in camp. It's basically a rerun of last year.”

Bell referenced the seven-year, $100 million contract that Adrian Peterson signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2011. He did not want his value determined by the deal Devonta Freeman signed with the Atlanta Falcons last summer that averages $8.25 million.

“It's not so much the money,” he said. “I think that the problem is, it's more of me being valued as to where I feel like I produce. … Devonta Freeman signed for what he wanted to sign for. That's not on me, that's on Devonta Freeman. He can't go back and change it. Him signing for that has nothing to do with what I want for my deal.”

Bell also said he is trying to reset the standard for running back compensation, trying to get it back to where Peterson set it seven years ago.

“I'm a guy who has to stand firm at what I really feel I'm valued at so the running back market can be where it needs to be,” he said. “Running back is an important position. On average, we have the shortest shelf life.

“I think the fact people do say that, we have to get everything we can when we are in the prime of our career because we don't play as long so we don't make as much money. Running backs need that respect, there's no ifs, ands and buts about it.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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