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Le’Veon Bell regrets the way his time in Pittsburgh ended: It was a little petty

Chris Simms tells Mike Florio how Kenny Pickett moved up to No. 25 in his Top 40 QB Countdown, given his ability to throw accurately under pressure and his feel in the pocket.

Le’Veon Bell ran for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns and had 3,289 yards and nine touchdowns receiving in five seasons with the Steelers. But after a year-long holdout, the running back was never the same again.

He had 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns rushing and 629 yards and two touchdowns receiving with four teams from 2019-21.

Bell now admits he shouldn’t have left Pittsburgh.

“Yeah, it was a little petty, the little guarantee stuff,” Bell said Friday on the Steel Here podcast, via NFL Media. “I’m thinking like, damn, could I have really just ate it? Yeah, I probably could’ve. Probably could’ve really ate it.”

Bell played under the franchise tag in 2017, and the Steelers tagged him again in 2018. They could never reach agreement on a new deal, and Bell sat out the season.

Bell told the podcast Pittsburgh was willing to guarantee only the first year of a new deal. He wanted more.

“We kept going back and forth,” Bell said. “It literally was the guarantee. They weren’t budging off of it, and I wasn’t budging off of it. I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh. At the end of the day, that’s where I was at. That’s where I got drafted at. Especially after going to different teams and seeing how it is. When a team has their guy, you’re their guy. I was Pittsburgh’s guy.”

Bell, 31, is retired even if he is the last to know it. He needs to focus on his boxing career.

But he would like to make up with the team that drafted him in the second round.

“I never officially retired,” Bell said. “The day when I do retire, it’s going to be with Pittsburgh. Like, I’m trying to retire with Pittsburgh. But before I do that, I might be like, ‘Hey, let me get a couple carries in the preseason so I can show you all something.’

“With the Steelers, I would do the little preseason, like alright, boom boom, but I would not do that anywhere else, because I don’t even think about playing. It literally would only be in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is where I’ll retire, you know what I’m saying, that’s just it. Because I already been other places. It’s not Pittsburgh.”

He could sign a one-day contract with the Steelers still, but players don’t “officially” retire. A player’s retirement is the year he last played a regular-season game. Bell retired after the 2021 season. His career is finished . . . and has been for a while.