Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro doesn’t care whether All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell decides to end his season-long holdout.
FILE PHOTO: Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the third quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
“Why waste more energy on it? The first week, we were shocked by [the holdout]. At this point, what are you gonna do? Sit here and drive at it and beg him to come back? Obviously that’s not how it works,” DeCastro told The MMQB following Sunday’s 24-16 victory against the Baltimore Ravens. “So we just put our best foot forward and try to do the best for this team.”
Bell, who is seeking a long-term deal, refused to sign his $14.5 million franchise tender. He has until Nov. 13 to sign it and report to the team if he wants to play in 2018.
Bell was not in the building Monday for team meetings, according to NFL Network, and has sacrificed more than $7.7 million in salary this season.
The Steelers (5-2-1) have won four in a row to seize sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
Bell has lost a lot of his leverage in negotiations due to the emergence of second-year running back James Conner.
Conner has rushed for 706 yards and nine touchdowns and added 38 receptions for 379 yards and one score. His 1,085 yards from scrimmage trail only Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams with 1,230. Conner posted his fourth consecutive 100-yard game against the Ravens.
Asked before Sunday’s game whether the surging Steelers needed Bell in the lineup, head coach Mike Tomlin gave ESPN a blunt response: “We need volunteers, not hostages.”
DeCastro said whatever happens with Bell won’t affect the team.
“It just doesn’t matter,” he said. “If he shows up, you’re blocking your guy the same as you would for Conner. It’s not like it’s going to be an issue. As much drama as there was with that, it’s not going to affect how we play football.”
The Steelers host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
—Field Level Media