The wait for Le’Veon Bell to return to action could be extended until 2019.

The Pittsburgh Steelers do not expect their all-pro running back by Tuesday’s deadline, according to multiple reports, in a move that would make Bell ineligible to play for the rest of this season.

Bell, 26, has remained away from the team since receiving the franchise tag for the second consecutive year. Sitting out the season would mean bypassing the rest of the prorated $14.54 million salary he would be eligible for, but it would also shield him from on-field injuries in his pursuit of a long-term contract as a potential free agent next offseason.

Prior to the weekend reports, Steelers owner Art Rooney told Sirius XM on Thursday the team expected Bell would be on hand by Tuesday.

 “I have to start by saying I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week. We know he’s back in Pittsburgh and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time all-pro, Bell was one of the NFL’s most productive all-purpose backs. With 1,946 yards from scrimmage, he trailed only Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams (2,093) last season while having an NFL-high 406 total touches.

With Bell sidelined, running back James Conner has rushed for 771 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games. Conner, however, was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol after Thursday’s 52-21 win over the Carolina Panthers.