Le’Veon Bell won’t play in 2018.
The star running back declined to sign his one-year $14.4 million franchise tender with the Pittsburgh Steelers by Tuesday’s deadline, making the former Michigan State star ineligible to suit up for the AFC North team — or any other — this season.
The unusual decision to sit out won’t prevent Bell from becoming a free agent next spring, when the three-time Pro Bowler hopes to cash in with a contract that would make him the highest-paid back in the NFL.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed resigned to Bell’s decision shortly before the 4 p.m. deadline, saying “so be it” when asked about the possibility of Bell never returning to the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft and helped mold him into one of the league’s top players.
“Even when we don’t understand it, we’re sensitive to it, so we’re not shocked when things happen from a business standpoint, no,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers, who have won five straight to sprint to the top of the division heading into a visit to Jacksonville on Sunday, will turn to second-year back James Conner and reserves Stevan Ridley and rookie Jaylen Samuels to help shoulder the load
All season Tomlin stressed he was focused on the players in the locker room and not the ones outside it, and hardly seems bothered by Pittsburgh’s quest for a postseason berth without the talented 26-year-old Bell.
Jackson back with Bengals
Hue Jackson landed another job in the place where he’s always welcomed.
The Bengals hired Jackson on Tuesday as a special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis as he tries to resurrect Cincinnati’s historically bad defense. Jackson was fired by the Cleveland Browns last month after he won only three games in three seasons as head coach.
As soon as Cleveland let him go, the Bengals showed an interest in Jackson, who begins his third stint with them.
The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday. Austin had held the same job with the Detroit Lions from 2014-17.
Marquee matchup moved from Mexico
The NFL has moved the Los Angeles Rams’ Monday night showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs from Mexico City to Los Angeles due to the poor condition of the field at Azteca Stadium.
The league announced the decision Tuesday, six days before one of the most-anticipated regular-season games of the year.
In a news release, the league says it determined that the recently re-sodded field at Mexico City’s historic stadium “does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency, and will not meet those standards by next Monday.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said C.J. Anderson’s frustration with his smaller-than-expected role on offense contributed to the team’s decision to release the former 1,000-yard rusher.
... The Buffalo Bills released receiver Terrelle Pryor just two weeks after they signed the eighth-year player.