Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has reportedly been suspended four games for missing a drug test.
BREAKING: Le’Veon Bell facing four-game suspension for violating league’s substance abuse policy https://t.co/NnoJFr67gN
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 22, 2016
Under the NFL’s drug policy, a missed drug test counts the same as a failed drug test. Bell is reportedly still in the midst of his appeal process, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Steelers have known about the suspension for a few weeks now, and don’t expect Bell to be on the field for the first four games of the season.
Bell was suspended for the first two games of last season because he was charged with DUI and marijuana possession in 2014. Bell is subject to the same appeals process again in 2016.
A first-team All-Pro back in 2014, Bell is an integral part of the Pittsburgh offense. He’s one of the top running backs in the league when he’s playing and on his game, and any missed time is huge for Pittsburgh. Bell is 24 years old and in 35 career games has 2,777 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, with a per-carry average of 4.3 yards. He also has 1,389 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
DeAngelo Williams served as Bell’s backup last season and looked good doing it. The first-year Steeler and 10-year NFL veteran managed 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 16 games with the Steelers last season. With Bell set to miss more time, Williams will once again be a featured back in Pittsburgh’s offense.
This is a damaging blow to the Steelers, and to Bell, as he is in the final year of his rookie deal. Now with two suspensions, one has to wonder what his worth will be after the season is over, and the type of risk a team would need to take on signing him to a long-term deal.