On Tuesday the annual NFL tagging period will begin and it will then be interesting to see if the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately have to place the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell by the March 6th deadline. In the meantime, however, I thought we would take a quick look back at how the Steelers have utilized the tag dating back to it coming into existence in 1992.
TE Eric Green (1994) – Green was the first player to receive the franchise tag from the Steelers and he and his agent Drew Rosenhaus certainly didn’t embrace it. The tag amount that year for Green was $1.434 million and while the Steelers reportedly offered him a four-year contract that averaged $1.8 million, the tight end wanted roughly a million more than that per season. Green held out the entire offseason as part of his dispute but ultimately relented and signed the tag ahead of the Steelers regular season opener that year against the Dallas Cowboys. After catching 46 passes for 618 yards and 4 touchdowns in 15 reguklar season games played in 1994, Green caught 7 more for 101 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers two playoff games. The Steelers let Green leave for the Miami Dolphins via free agency the next offseason.
S Carnell Lake (1995) – Lake became the second Steelers player to ever receive the franchise tag from the organization in 1995 and much like with Green a year earlier, that didn’t go over well with the safety. After a 25-day training camp holdout, however, Lake reported to the Steelers and he ultimately signed a four-year, $9.2 million contract that included a $2 million signing bonus. The franchise tag amount for Lake that year was reportedly $1,688,887. Lake played out his four-year contract with the Steelers and left in 1999 via free agency to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
OLB Jason Gildon (2002) – Gildon became the third Steelers player to receive the franchise tag from the organization in 2002. That tag amount was reportedly $5.515 million. Gildon only wore the franchise tag a short time, however, as he reportedly signed a five-year, $23 million contract that included a $6.5 million signing bonus just before the month of February ended that year. Gildon only played two years of that five-year contract, however, as the Steelers cut him after the 2003 season. He went on to play just one more season and it was with the Jaguars.
T Max Starks (2008) – The Steelers used the transition tag on Starks in 2008 and that came with a $6.895 million price tag. Starks eventually signed his tender in late April of that year and the Steelers ultimately didn’t sign him to a contract extension the remainder of the offseason. Starks ultimately played well that season.
T Max Starks (2009) – After giving Starks the transition tag in 2008, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him in 2009. That tag came with a price tag of $8.451 million and the Steelers ultimately signed the tackle to a four-year, $26.3 million contract that June that reportedly included an $8 million signing bonus.
K Jeff Reed (2010) – The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Reed in 2010 after signing nose tackle Casey Hampton to a long-term contract right before the deadline. Reed’s tag amount was $2.814 million. The Steelers did not sign Reed to a long-term contract extension prior to the start of the 2010 regular season and it’s a good thing that they didn’t. Reed struggled during the 2010 season and the Steelers cut him in mid November.
OLB LaMarr Woodley (2011) – The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Woodley in 2011 and that move was expected. Woodley handled the tag process great and the Steelers rewarded him with a six-year, $61.5 million contract in early August of that year while the team was still in training camp. That deal included a $13 million signing bonus. Woodley, however, only played three of those six seasons as injuries forced him to miss too many games. Unfortunately for the Steelers, they restructured his contract twice because the need for salary cap space. Woodley was released by the Steelers in March of 2014 and designated a post June 1 release.
OLB Jason Worilds (2014) – The Steelers used the transition tag again in 2014 and this time it was on Worilds. That tag was worth $9.754 million and the Steelers didn’t sign him to contract extension later during that offseason. Worilds played the 2014 season but abruptly retired from the NFL in March of 2015.
RB Le’Veon Bell (2017) – The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell roughly one full year ago. That amount was $12.12 million and the running back refused to sign it. After reportedly turning down a multiyear contract offer from the Steelers that would have paid the running back $30 million in the first two years and $42 million through the first three, Bell sat out training camp before ultimately signing his tag just prior to the start of the 2017 reguklar season.