2018 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Give Le’Veon Bell The Franchise Tag?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Will the Steelers use the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, and if so, when?

Today is February 19, which is a relatively important date for the Steelers in their negotiations with running back Le’Veon Bell, whom their top front office members have gone on record as saying that they want to re-sign to a long-term contract.

February 19 is the last day before teams can begin placing the franchise tag on players. Bell has previously said that the two sides were working toward getting a contract signed prior to the artificial deadline of being tagged.

There are two points of clarification when it comes to that. For one thing, the Steelers obviously don’t have to use the franchise tag on Bell on the first day it’s possible for them to do so. They’ll have roughly two weeks to make that decision, as the deadline for using the franchise tag is in early March.

Secondly, it is only from Bell that we have heard about this artificial deadline, a benchmark for getting a deal done. Neither Kevin Colbert nor Art Rooney II, at least from what I have seen, mentioned it, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that he made it up.

Bell has made it pretty clear that he would like to avoid the franchise tag this year, even though being given the tag does not mean that he will have to play under the tag. The two sides continued to negotiate contract terms right up until the deadline in mid-July a year ago, but they were unable to come to an agreement.

Given that fact, though, it is easy to be pessimistic about the prospects of the two sides coming to terms, and one would imagine that both parties will have to come down—or up—from their current positions in order to meet in the middle to settle the matter.

At this point, I think people are more interested in there being a resolution than in what that resolution is. And I can’t blame them.

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