The Pittsburgh Steelers will not let their Pro Bowl running back hit the open market.
The team announced Monday that they would use their exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Under the terms of the tag, Bell only will be able to negotiate with the Steelers and cannot sign an offer with another team.
Pittsburgh and Bell will have until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a long-term contract. If that fails to get done, Bell will play the 2017 season under the franchise tag, which is expected to be worth a little more than $12.7 million, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
The Steelers’ proactive efforts to retain Bell come as no surprise, as he is one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. Last season, he ran for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns, while also racking up 616 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions.
The primary concern with Bell is his inability to stay on the field. In his four-year career, he’s only managed to play a full 16-game season once. This has been due to various injuries, as well as multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
It should be interesting to see whether Pittsburgh extends Bell long-term before the July 15 deadline. The team also is working on a contract extension with star wideout Antonio Brown, which could affect Bell’s chances of cashing in.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images