New England Patriots fall to Titans in 34-10 upset

New England Patriots fall to Titans in 34-10 upset

New England Patriots fall to Titans in 34-10 upset

"I want to confirm that Le'Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender today and, as a result, he will not be eligible to play football during the 2018 season", general manager Kevin Colbert said in a terse statement.

On Tuesday, the 4 p.m. ET deadline for Bell to report and sign his franchise tag with the Steelers came and went, which means Bell definitely won't play football this season and nearly definitely won't play for the Steelers ever again.

The running back held out the entire preseason and first 10 weeks of the regular season over a contract dispute. Conner, who is now in the concussion protocol, has 771 yards (4.7 average) and 10 scores on the ground this season, along with 39 catches for 387 yards and a score. Coach Mike Tomlin says the AFC North-leading Steelers (6-2-1) have not heard from Bell.

But Bell's commitment to carrying out his threat ultimately made it real, as he now has forfeited the entirety of that salary, along with some ancillary retirement benefits he would have collected from the league for playing this season.

The Steelers will move forward with second-year back James Conner as the starter. We'll just take our lumps and try and learn from them. Just a few hours before the deadline, Bell was spotted gifting a Pro Bowl vote to Conner.

"That train has left the station", Tomlin said. Instead, Bell made good on a threat he made almost 11 months ago, when he said he would consider sitting out the season if the team kept him from free agency via a second franchise tag.

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Bell is one of only three players to be franchise tagged in consecutive seasons.

But. the deadline came and went with no Bell to be found.

The Steelers are unlikely to place a much more costly third straight franchise tag on Bell, but could instead opt for a transition tag. Either way, Bell will be elsewhere in 2019 barring something extraordinarily unexpected.

And so, we appear to be at the end of Bell's career in Pittsburgh.

It's as close to breaking a sweat with the Steelers as Bell will get.

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