The deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract extension is almost 24 hours away and while anything can certainly happen between now and Monday’s 4PM EST cutoff, it doesn’t appear as though the two sides are close to a deal at the time of this post.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Sunday, Bell is one of three players still wearing the franchise tag who are not close to consummating new long-term contract extensions with their respective teams. Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson are the two other players.
Deadlines usually spur actions and so quite honestly, it’s not surprising that Bell and the Steelers have yet to work out a new long-term deal so far. However, it’s worth noting that the last time Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, represented a franchise tagged running back in 2012, that player, Matt Forte, ultimately signed a long-term contract extension with the Chicago Bears on the day of that year’s deadline.
Bell was issued the $12.12 million franchise tag just ahead of the start of the 2017 league year in March and has reportedly yet to sign the tender. While he has been recovering all offseason from groin surgery, Bell decided to stay away from most of the team’s offseason practices and mandatory minicamp, which wasn’t mandatory for him being as he isn’t currently under contract.
Should Bell ultimately not get signed to a new deal by Monday’s deadline, expect the discussion about him to turn quickly to whether or not he’ll show up for training camp on time. While it would be Bell’s right not to report to training camp if he hasn’t signed his franchise tag tender by then, he really doesn’t stand to gain anything by holding out being as the deadline for a new deal will have passed.
Not signing Bell long-term before Monday’s deadline could ultimately result in the Steelers using the franchise tag on the running back again next year. The amount of that tag would be well over $14 million, however.
For now, continue to tap your fingers on your desk and stare at your Twitter feed for the next 24 hours for any new developments on Bell’s contract situation.