Le'Veon Bell has until Tuesday, Nov. 13, to report to the Steelers if he wants to play this season, and team owner Art Rooney II is expecting him to meet the deadline.
Rooney appeared on Sirius XM radio Thursday to discuss the running back and his contract issues with the team. Rooney expressed some optimism about the situation, although he made it clear he has not heard from Bell.
"I don't know what his plans are, but I would say that at this point we expect him to come back next week," Rooney said. "We know he's back in Pittsburgh, so we're hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend. We're kind of expecting he'll be back next week."
Bell was reportedly seen at a Pittsburgh LA Fitness Tuesday night. Wednesday he sent out a pair of upside-down tweets talking about his current situation.
The two-time All-Pro has yet to sign his franchise tender, and for each week he doesn't report, he misses out on around $855,000 of the $14.5 million he was scheduled to make this season.
"We're in uncharted territory here in terms of, this really has never happened before as far as I know," Rooney said. "So, there are questions that we may get to at the end of the season. We'll cross those bridges when we get to them at the end of the season."
Pittsburgh could place the franchise tag on Bell for a third season this coming offseason, but it seems unlikely. Bell would be set to make north of $20 million on a new franchise tag.
In his place, the Steelers have gotten great production out of second-year back James Conner. The Pittsburgh product is second in the league with 706 rushing yards and nine touchdowns entering Week 10.
The Steelers entered Thursday's game against the Panthers with a 5-2-1 record, and they sit at the top of the AFC North.