On Instagram, Bell stumbled upon the following comments by linebacker Bobby Wagner.
“If he doesn’t come, then he’s not a team player,” Wagner told reporters after the game Sunday, via The Olympian. “If he does come and gets hurt, then it’s, ‘he shouldn’t have came.’ … If I was him, I’d be pissed off.”
Bell then responded: “smh exactly … get right bro, bro @earl ! I’ll continue to be the ‘bad guy’ for ALL of us.”
Thomas caved during a holdout. Then the worst outcome happened — he suffered a season-ending injury, which will likely impact his earning power in the coming years. As he left the field on a cart during Week 4, Thomas flipped the middle finger at his own sideline, a gesture of frustration after everything had gone exactly how he didn’t want it to go.
Bell, meanwhile, has watched his Steelers fall to 1-2-1 amid offensive struggles. Pittsburgh posted a season-low 14 points against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night. Their schedule isn’t getting easier. In the coming weeks, they’ll play the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars. Those aren’t easy opponents, not even the 1-3 Falcons, who are fighting against playoff elimination just like the Steelers, and not even the Browns, who tied the Steelers in Week 1.
While running back James Conner has been solid in relief of Bell, Conner isn’t the second coming of Bell. The Steelers offense could use a lift — Bell would be a game-changer. Judging from his comments, however, he doesn’t seem appear to be considering a return. In fact, he seems deeper entrenched in his position.
Bell is not content with his contract, and wants a long-term deal which would provide greater financial security. One of the many problems, however, is that Bell cannot negotiate a new deal, which makes him harder to trade to another team and creates major problems for the Steelers and Bell to make amends. So Bell could sit out as long as he can without losing an accrued season, so that he can enter free agency this offseason.
With Bell so far forfeiting $3.4 million of potential earnings this year and the Steelers skidding, the dispute has gotten ugly.