By Matt Citak
With training camp set to begin later this week, Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown stressed the importance of running back Le’Veon Bell to the team’s success.
“We need him. I need him,” Brown told reporters from his Live Your Vision Foundation Football ProCamp at Bethel Park High School outside of Pittsburgh. “If we’re going to do what we desire to do, we need every guy a part of the organization in a helmet to be there committed to the cause. He’s a special piece. Obviously, we know what he brings to the team, his dimension playing football, but he’s a special individual. I pray that we have him there.”
Bell will play this season on a franchise tag of $12.12 million after the Steelers and the Pro Bowl running back failed to reach an extension before the July 17 deadline. Brown and Bell spoke on the phone for about two hours Saturday night, and the wide receiver said the topics the two discussed were “top secret.”
Brown received a four-year, $68 million extension back in February, and is under contract with the Steelers for at least the next five seasons. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s deal has three years left as well, leaving Bell as the only member of the Steelers’ Triple Bs attack without any long-term security. Bell told ESPN last week that he felt the Steelers did not value his services the way he valued himself.
Bell has yet to sign his franchise tender, meaning he cannot be fined for missing camp days. The running back has not committed to reporting to the Steelers’ training camp, but has stated his intentions to play the full season.
With the NFL conditionally reinstating Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant in April, Pittsburgh is looking forward to having all of its offensive weapons for the regular season. Brown is hoping that Bryant is the missing piece for the Steelers, but reiterated that the team needs to have all of its players in order to win big.