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Le’Veon Bell ‘still holding out hope’ for long-term deal with Steelers

Le’Veon Bell has finally opened up about his protracted contract stalemate with the Pittsburgh Steelers that has kept him away from the team throughout the offseason, training camp and the first four games of the season. Despite the obvious acrimony between the parties, the Bell nevertheless believes when it’s all said and done, he will remain with the Steelers.

“I could be naïve or hopeful, but at the end of the day I feel like that’s what’s going to happen,” Bell told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “I don’t think they really want me gone. That could be me being prideful. But I’m still holding out hope.”

A report published Monday indicated Bell is expected to report to the Steelers sometime around Week 7 or Week 8. The Steelers’ bye does come in Week 7, which would allow Bell more time to get acclimated after such a lengthy absence.

Bell insisted in his interview with Fowler that he could play “tomorrow,” adding he’s “fully committed” to giving it his all upon his return.

With the NFL’s looming Oct. 30 trade deadline — which comes after Week 8 — Bell does not expect to be traded, despite reports the Steelers are entertaining offers. That said, Bell did lay out the parameters which would lead him to consider such a deal.

“I would have to know everything,” Bell said. “It depends on what team it is and whether they want to do a long-term deal after the tag. If they really wanted to do a long-term deal, they could get me traded.”

In the end, Bell feels perfectly justified with how he’s approached the standoff with the Steelers.

“It sucks having to sit out football,” Bell said. “I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs.

“But I’ve gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches.”

Bell has already sacrificed $3.4 million in salary by failing to report to the Steelers and sign a franchise tender that would have paid him $14.54 million this season.