PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have no plans on moving on from All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell.
Team president Art Rooney II is optimistic the team can sign Bell to a long-term extension going into the 2018 season, but didn’t rule out using the franchise tag for a second straight year as a precaution if the two sides can’t come to an agreement before free agency begins next month.
While allowing that contract negotiations can be hard to predict, Rooney stressed Wednesday that “the good news is both sides want to get something done and hopefully that will lead us to getting it done.”
Bell played under the franchise tag this season after rejecting a new contract last summer. He responded by leading the NFL in touches (406) while finishing with 1,946 total yards and 11 touchdowns to earn his second All-Pro spot in four years as the Steelers finished 13-3 and won their second straight AFC North title before being upset in the divisional round by Jacksonville.
Bell told ESPN in the run-up to the playoff loss he would consider sitting out 2018 or retiring if Pittsburgh used the franchise tag again, but softened his stance prior to the Pro Bowl, saying he believes he’s close to signing a new deal, one that would likely make him the highest-paid back in the league.
McDaniels gives Pats possible successor
BOSTON — Josh McDaniels sent ripples throughout the NFL with his decision to pull out of an agreement to become the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach.
He has yet to speak publicly about what factored into the 11th hour about-face. But McDaniels’ return as New England’s offensive coordinator keeps a possible successor for Patriots coach Bill Belichick in house.
Belichick gave no indication after the Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night that he plans to exit in 2018. And just last month he said that it was “absolutely” his intention to be back for his 19th season with the Patriots.
But at age 65 he’s also the second-oldest coach in the NFL, behind only Seattle’s Pete Carroll at 66.
McDaniels has been one of the hottest names in coaching searches every offseason over the past three years.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Wednesday that the assistants that McDaniels had already hired to be on his staff would have their contracts honored. If McDaniels ever leaves New England again, he will certainly have some repairs to make to his image around the league.
Prosecutor: Trump’s comments on crash ‘ghoulish’
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana prosecutor blasted President Donald Trump on Wednesday for politicizing the case of an immigrant illegally living in the U.S. and charged in a drunken crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and another man, saying his and others’ comments were “ghoulish and inappropriate.”
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said his office would “vigorously prosecute” the case regardless of the suspect’s immigration status. Curry criticized Trump and others who cited the case as part of the nation’s immigration debate, noting that “two innocent men lost their lives in this horrible incident.”
Curry filed felony charges earlier in the day against the suspect, Manuel Orrego-Savala, a citizen of Guatemala who has twice been deported from the U.S. Orrego-Savala is accused of driving the pickup truck that hit Jackson and his Uber driver, 54-year-old Jeffrey Monroe, early Sunday in Indianapolis.
“We are disheartened that ghoulish and inappropriate public commentary has politicized this tragedy,” Curry, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Much of such commentary, including tweets by the president, fails to acknowledge that both Edwin Jackson and Jeffrey Monroe lost their lives on Sunday. We will simply seek justice on behalf of the families of those two victims.”
Trump drew added attention to the case on Twitter, calling the highway collision “disgraceful,” and prodded Democrats to work with him on illegal immigration and border security.
Orrego-Savala is charged with two counts each of causing death while driving intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. The two more serious counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The 37-year-old said little during his initial court hearing Wednesday, responding through an interpreter as a judge explained the proceedings and charges. The judge set his bond at $200,000 after entering a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Investigators said Orrego-Savala was living illegally in the U.S. at the time of Sunday’s crash. Late Tuesday, he was charged by federal prosecutors with illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien. He faces up to 10 years in prison in that case, which would be handled after any state charges are resolved.
His defense attorney, Jorge Torres, said Orrego-Savala’s immigration status has no bearing on the drunken-driving case. He questioned whether his client could get a fair trial given the local publicity about the case and his immigration issues. Torres declined to comment on Trump’s tweets.
Torres said his client has been living and doing construction work in the Indianapolis area for several years.
“He’s very distraught to say the least,” Torres said. “He’s very confused.”
Jackson’s family planned no response to Trump’s tweets about the crash and the suspect’s immigration status, according to a family spokesman.
“We’ll let the politicians do the politics while the family is just going to grieve and circle the wagons and try to heal from this tragic situation,” Atlanta attorney Daniel Meachum said Tuesday. “The family is in shock, as you can imagine.”