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Sources: Steelers taking Bell trade offers

Sources: Steelers taking Bell trade offers

PITTSBURGH — Le’Veon Bell is still out of business, so the Pittsburgh Steelers are open for business.

Pittsburgh is now listening to trade offers for the All-Pro running back while he remains away from the team with an unsigned franchise tag, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

When Bell didn’t show for Week 1, sources said the Steelers planned to stand pat with no plans to rescind his $14.5 million tag or trade him. Bell wants a new contract and is unhappy with being tagged for the second straight year, so he has stayed in South Florida as the Steelers began the season 0-1-1.

Bell forfeits $852,941 per week — or one-seventeenth of the total tag number — each week he fails to show up, and it’s become clear Bell has no intention of showing up soon. In the last week, Bell has been spotted on jet skis, on a yacht and at a nightclub for his album release.

Bell is bound by the terms of the tag for 2018, so any team that inherits his services must wait until 2019 to sign him to an extension. Bell and the Steelers negotiated up until the July 16 deadline, and once that deadline passed without a new deal, Bell’s only on-field option was playing on the tag.

Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, made clear on an early September appearance on NFL Live that Bell’s goal is to preserve his long-term health. Several starting offensive linemen ripped Bell for not communicating his intentions to a team that planned for him to be there Week 1.

In July, a source told ESPN that Bell planned to play a full season and sitting out would be a shock, with Bakari saying that’s the plan barring something “exceptional.” That was before Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $57 million extension. Pass-rushers Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack earned deals worth well over $100 million in total, and Bell believes he’s one of the league’s best players.

Bell hinted at this very scenario in an interview with ESPN in January.

“I’m not going to settle for anything,” he said. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”

Bell’s talent is undeniable, but one NFL general manager told ESPN that Bell’s position and lofty financial demands — believed to be more than $15 million per year — make a trade unattractive.

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