Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell is expected to report during Week 7, the Steelers' bye week, according to an ESPN report on Monday.
Bell, who has not yet signed or reported to the team after it franchise-tagged him for the second-straight season this offseason, would miss two more games but return for the Oct. 28 game in Pittsburgh against Cleveland if the report is accurate.
The Steelers, who had 19 rushing yards on Sunday in a loss to Baltimore, are also reportedly exploring trade options.
Bell is losing $855,000 from his $14.54 million franchise tender for every game he doesn't report to the team this season.
Bell struggled out of the blocks in 2017 before finishing the season with 1,291 rushing yards and 85 receptions for 655 yards. Bell was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time and was named All-Pro for the second time.
This is the second straight year Bell skipped preseason, but last year he reported on the Monday that preceded the regular-season opener.
The 26-year-old led the NFL in regular-season carries with 321 last season.
According to ESPN.com, the Steelers made a contract offer last summer and another during the winter starting at approximately $13.3 million per year on average. The Steelers raised their offer slightly, but Bell turned both down. The total offer was reportedly around $70 million, but less than $20 million was guaranteed.
Bell tweeted the following message after failing to get a long-term deal this offseason:
"To all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I'm sorry we let you down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date."