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Steelers expect Le'Veon Bell to report next week

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are anticipating Le'Veon Bell returning to the team ahead of next week's deadline for franchise tagged players.

"I don't know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week," Steelers owner Art Rooney II said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. "We know he's back in Pittsburgh and so we're hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we're kind of expecting he will be back next week."

Bell hasn't publicly said whether or not he's willing to sign his franchise tender or accept a one-year deal with the Steelers ahead of Tuesday's deadline to retain his playing eligibility for this season.

While Bell's teammates continue to express frustration over Bell's absence from the team, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday the Steelers want the prolific running back to return. Bell is back in Pittsburgh after saying farewell on Monday to Miami, where he's been training during his self-imposed exile.

As for what the Steelers will or won't do with Bell after this season, Rooney said he isn't completely sure what the interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement should be when it comes to Bell's situation in 2019. The Steelers could franchise tag Bell for a third time in 2019, but he would be tagged at the quarterback salary number, not the lower number he was tagged at this year, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Rooney said the team will eventually address that issue.

"We're in uncharted territory here in terms that this has never really happened, as far as I know," Rooney said about Bell's situation. "There are questions that we may get to at the end of the season, but we'll cross those bridges when we get to them at the end of the season."

For now, it appears the Steelers are on Bell watch like the rest of the NFL world.

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