2019 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Tag Le’Veon Bell?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will the Steelers place the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell?

Just when you think it’s over, right? Apparently, the Steelers are giving legitimate consideration to the possibility of placing the transition tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, who is (finally) scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after skipping out on the 2018 season on the franchise tag.

According to reports, the Steelers are considering this possibility with the intention of quickly flipping him, trading him to another team that would like to come calling for him. There are many hurdles involved in this plan, however, starting with a negotiation of what the value of the transition tag would even be.

Following that, we have to assume that Bell can be on-board with the plan, which would require something of a handshake agreement. In order for it to work, a team would have to inform the Steelers and Bell of their intention to sign him and what they would be willing to offer him.

He would have to then be agreeable to that deal, sign the Steelers’ tag, and then the Steelers would trade him to that team on the tag, who would then sign him to the new deal. This isn’t entirely unfeasible, as post-trade deals are fairly common. Washington signed Alex Smith to a new deal that was pre-arranged before he was traded last offseason.

But what is the incentive for the trading team? They could just put the offer out there and acquire Bell that way if he wants the contract. The only arrow in the Steelers’ quiver is the right of first refusal to match the deal, and we know they’re not going to do that, as do the teams potentially trading for him.

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