Le'Veon Bell Antonio Brown Steelers
Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates seven-yard touchdown reception with Le'Veon Bell #26 in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on October 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Justin Berl/Getty Images

This is hardly how the Pittsburgh Steelers expected to start the 2018 NFL season. Despite having higher expectations than anyone in the AFC besides the New England Patriots, the team is still searching for its first win after Week 2.

It isn’t just the lack of success on the field that’s made for a rocky September. Pittsburgh’s star playmakers have been at the center of some negative headlines and trade speculation, even if the organization hasn’t seriously considered making any major deals.

Questions about Le’Veon Bell’s future with the team haven’t stopped since he failed to report to the team when training camp ended. The running back was expected to sign the franchise tag and be ready for the season opener after holding out during the preseason. Instead, he’s still at home after two games, sparking speculation that he might not suit up for the Steelers at all this season.

If the latest betting odds mean anything, Bell has nearly a 50/50 chance of getting traded by the Oct. 30 trade deadline. Don’t forget that the idea of the Oakland Raiders trading Khalil Mack seemed like a long shot when the odds suggested the linebacker would be dealt. The Chicago Bears, of course, acquired the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, soon after the preseason ended.

Bell doesn’t have nearly as much trade value because teams can’t sign him to an extension before the end of the season. Pittsburgh might only get a middle-round draft pick—probably no higher than a second-rounder—in return for the All-Pro, who is set to become a free agent in 2019. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported before Week 1 that the Steelers weren’t looking to trade Bell.

But that hasn’t stopped discussions from fans or prevented members of the media from proposing trade scenarios that could make sense. This might not stop anytime soon, given that Bell can wait until Week 11 before reporting to Pittsburgh to make nearly half of the $14.544 million franchise tag.

Pittsburgh hasn’t exactly missed Bell on the field. Backup running back James Conner led the league with 135 yards on the ground in Week 1. Even as Conner struggled in the Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers put up 37 points at home.

Antonio Brown recorded nine receptions in each of the first two games, though he wasn’t the team’s leading receiver in either contest. The Pro Bowler didn’t speak with the media after Sunday’s loss, and he created news with a comment on social media Monday.

In response to a Twitter post made by a former Steelers’ employee that said the wide receiver only put up such big numbers because he played with Ben Roethlisberger, Brown tweeted, “Trade me let’s find out.”

The tweet obviously wasn’t an actual trade demand, but it nevertheless caused a stir. It was less than a week ago that the veteran had to issue an apology for threatening a reporter that wrote a story about his Instagram use.

Brown agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Steelers in the 2017 offseason. He’s fourth in receptions through two weeks and has been a top-five receiver in each of the last five years.

The Steelers are tied with the 0-1-1 Cleveland Browns for last place in the very early AFC North standings. The Baltimore Ravens are 1-1 and the Cincinnati Bengals sit alone in first with a perfect 2-0 record.

Pittsburgh is an early two-point road favorite for their Week 3 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on “Monday Night Football,” according to OddsShark. After visiting Tampa Bay, the Steelers will have four divisional matchups over their next five games.