95% of today’s Mike Tomlin press conference was dedicated to Antonio Brown. For obvious reasons considering, ya know, the Pittsburgh Steelers might actually be on the verge of trading the guy away. But Tomlin was briefly asked about Le’Veon Bell’s future. The old distraction of the team. Tomlin answered it in typical diplomatic fashion,
“We’re in the process of assessing and reviewing what happened in ’18,” Tomlin said. “And appropriately so. We’re in a pause before we start talking about the development of ’19. And that includes any and all the potential free agents and things of that nature. From a personnel standpoint, from a coaching standpoint. I just don’t have a lot of answers along those lines as I stand here today.”
Bell is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent again this March. The Steelers can either franchise tag him again, which seems highly, highly unlikely. Or the team could place the transition tag on him. That would invite other teams to make long-term offers which the Steelers could match. If they don’t, they’ll lose him without any compensation value. Bell has previously stated that’s what the organization told him they would do but it remains unclear if that’s still their plan.
James Conner ran well in place of Bell, perhaps making the decision to move on for good a little easier. But at least one former Steelers player believes Bell will actually return to the team on a long-term deal. Former running back Josh Harris tweeted the idea out earlier today.
I know for a fact Bell doesn’t wanna leave Pittsburgh. And with what coach T said in his presser. I’m seeing them try and negotiate one more time.
— The Bishop (@JoshHarris25) January 2, 2019
Bell is expected to still be asking for upwards of $17 million per year. That obviously would eat up a significant portion of the Steelers cap space, giving them much less money to work with to fix the obvious flaws with their defense.
February 19th marks the first date teams can place the franchise/transition tag on players. The deadline to do so comes March 5th at 4 PM/ET.