Even though the deadline for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to play this season has now passed he’s still part of the Week 11 Sunday morning pregame news cycle.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Steelers made one final push earlier this week to get Bell to report and sign his $14.544 million franchise tag.
“Bell was informed of how the Steelers still very much had a role for him even with James Conner now thriving as the feature back, sources said, according to La Canfora. “They told Bell he would still get regular work in the passing game and spell Conner in the run game.”
Those conversations picked up with Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari in the hours ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, according to his report.
The Steelers also reportedly informed Bell’s side of their intent to place the transition tag on him in 2019, setting up an offseason grievance with the NFLPA.
“My understanding is that is a very real possibility which would give them the opportunity to match any deal and yes, Le’Veon Bell is expected to get offered a lot of money,” Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Sunday morning. “From what I understand, he wants more than $17 million per year. He wanted 17 from the Steelers last year, a new year a higher cap, he wants more than 17, heavy in the guaranteed money. From what I’m told, seeking more than $45 million in guarantees. So you play that forward, could potentially look for a five year, $85 million dollar deal and consider the fact that it’d be front loaded, he may actually get the 20 plus million dollars over maybe the first two years that he wants.”
The interesting thing to reiterate when it comes to the Steelers potentially placing the franchise tag on Bell next offseason is the fact that if they do so and another team signs him to an offer sheet that isn’t ultimately matched, they would lose him to that team without receiving any sort of compensation. Additionally, using the transition tag on Bell would result in the Steelers temporarily tying up a good chunk of salary cap space on him while they wait for him to receive and offer sheet from another team.
“The management council believes the Steelers will be able to use a $9.5 million transition tag on Bell this offseason that would give Pittsburgh the chance to match any offer sheet that the Pro Bowl running back signs with another team,” Adam Shefter of ESPN reported Sunday morning. “The council believes the $9.5 million salary should be based on his salary this year, which Bell forfeited by not reporting.”
Like I have said for several weeks now, Bell will continue to be part of the new cycle moving forward even though his deadline to sign and play this year has now passed. In short, be ready to read and hear a lot more updates on Bell from now until the end of the season and on into the offseason.