Le’Veon Bell’s messy Pittsburgh exit won’t be what keeps him from Steelers return

Le'Veon Bell is eyeing an NFL comeback with one team in mind.

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Former All-Pro running Le’Veon Bell took to social media last week to express his desire to return to the NFL:

Per ESPN’s Senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, Bell’s aspiration to make an NFL comeback lies in the hands of one team: The Pittsburgh Steelers.

While stating his intention to begin training in March, Bell also said he “will only come back for that one team.” While he didn’t say it outright, Bell was clearly referring to the Steelers when he said: “I don’t have to say no team. You all know who it is.”

Le’Veon Bell hints at desire to return to Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell enjoyed the best years of his career with the Steelers after they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, earning three Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro nods in five seasons with the franchise.

In 2014, Bell accrued 2,215 scrimmage yards, which ranks 23rd all-time for yards from scrimmage in a single season.

However, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows between Bell and the Steelers -- which ultimately led to his departure in 2019 after he sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute. As a result, Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets in 2019. Bell's tenure with the Jets didn't go as planned, to say the least, which ended with the Jets releasing him in 2020.

While he could’ve handled the contract negotiations better, he was a 25-year-old player who felt he was outproducing his salary. Turning 32 in February, Bell has grown and apologized to the Pittsburgh fan base for his actions.

Given the physically demanding and taxing nature of being a running back in the NFL, franchises today typically prefer to roll with younger tailbacks who have less tread on their tires. This approach to building a backfield is more cost-effective and beneficial, considering older backs with heavy usage are more prone to injury.

Now, he is eyeing a return to the Steelers to make things right. Current Steelers running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are still on the roster and under contract, which could complicate matters for Bell.

Pittsburgh selected Harris with a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft -- since then, he's eclipsed 1,200 scrimmage yards in his first three seasons as a pro, including a Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

After being undrafted in 2022, Warren emerged as the lightning to Harris' thunder in 2023, becoming the second undrafted player in Steelers franchise history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a single season.

So, while Bell is interested in a reunion with the Steelers, the feeling may not necessarily be mutual. 

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