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Steelers want Le’Veon Bell for long run, not sure extension fits this year

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell missed the final eight games of the regular season and both postseason games because of a knee injury, which marked two straight years that the Steelers have advanced to the playoffs without Bell in the lineup because of knee issues.

Throw in a foot injury from his rookie year and Bell hasn’t made it through any of his three NFL seasons without an injury, but that doesn’t appear to have much impact on the team’s plans to hold onto him for the long term. Team president Art Rooney II said Thursday that the team thinks Bell “will still be a great player,” although he’s not sure if they’ll reach agreement on an extension this offseason.

"[Bell] is somebody we would like to continue to have on the team for the long run,” Rooney said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I don’t think we are sitting here waiting to see something from Le’Veon. I think we’ve seen enough. It is going to come down to how his contract fits in with others. It is kind of a jigsaw puzzle.”

Bell has some say in the matter, of course, and negotiating a long-term deal coming off of a season-ending knee injury might not make the most sense for him. If he makes good on Rooney’s prediction that he’ll be a “great player” as his contract expires in 2016, he’d put himself in better position at the negotiating table so that jigsaw puzzle may just have to wait a while.