According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to get a long-term deal done with running back Le’Veon Bell before Monday’s 4pm league deadline and now the former second-round draft pick out of Michigan State will have to play under the $12.12 franchise tag that was issued him by the team earlier in the offseason.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert released a short statement concerning Bell’s situation after the Monday deadline passed.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell prior to today’s deadline,” said Colbert in a statement. “Le’Veon is scheduled to play this year under the Exclusive Franchise Tag designation. We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season.”
Bell, who reportedly is now fully healed from offseason groin surgery, has yet to sign his franchise tag, however, and thus the talk about the running back will now turn to whether or not he’ll show up for training camp on time.
Bell has every right to show up whenever he feels like it moving forward as he’s not currently under contract with the team. With that said, a late arrival to training camp, or bypassing it entirely, isn’t likely to endear him to his teammates, some of whom already wished he had been present for the team’s offseason sessions even though he wouldn’t have been expected to participate in them due to rehab.
A Bell training camp holdout really won’t accomplish anything as the Steelers can’t sign him to a new contract now until after the 2017 season has concluded.
If the Steelers want Bell to remain in Pittsburgh past the 2017 season, they’ll likely need to place the franchise tag on him again prior to the start of the 2018 league year. The amount of such a tag will be $14.5 million. In order to receive such a tag, however, Bell will have to have another spectacular season and remain fully healthy and out of trouble with the league in the process.
Bell enters his fifth NFL season having already registered 6,050 total yards from scrimmage and 31 total touchdowns in 47 regular season games played. The running back has missed five games during his career due to suspensions for violating the leagues substance abuse policy and another 11 due to injuries.