Le'Veon Bell is back in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers running back suggested he'd return to the team on Sept. 1. He didn't disappoint, arriving at the team facility on Friday.
Bell will sign his $12.1 million franchise tender Friday.
Bell passed his team physical Friday left the facility a short time later, NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala reported. Kinkhabwala added that Bell will return to the team Monday. Team brass did not indicate whether or not Bell signed his tender.
With sides unable to come to terms on a multi-year deal before the deadline in July, Bell sat out the entirety of training camp and the preseason. As he had not signed the tender, the running back wasn't under contract, therefore not subject to fines by the team for missing time.
Bell and the Steelers are unable to negotiate on a long-term contract until after the 2017 season ends. The question at that time will be whether Pittsburgh will pony up to Bell's high demands, tag him again (which could lead to another standoff) at around $14.5 million, or let him hit the open market.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported in July that Bell turned down a multi-year deal that averaged more than $12 million per season, with $30 million over the first two seasons. The deal would have kept Bell as by far the highest-paid running back in the NFL. That, however, is not the goal for the Steelers back. The 25-year-old wants to be compensated in line with his standing as the team's top runner and number two receiver.
The contract issues are for another day.
On Friday the uber-talented dual-threat returned to an offense poised to put up big numbers in 2017. Until the offseason, Bell's focus will be helping Pittsburgh pound its way toward what it hope is another championship.