Le’Veon Bell might reap financial rewards for sitting out the entire 2018 NFL season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers running back is considering holding out for the duration of the season, instead of returning by the Nov. 13 deadline as many suspect he will, because he stands to benefit a clause in the NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement with players that recently caught his representatives’ attention, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported Tuesday, citing a source.
Third-year franchise-tagged players reportedly will earn more than $25 million next season, and Bell has learned he’ll qualify as one in 2019, even if he doesn’t play one down this season.
“A separate source has confirmed to The Athletic that next year’s franchise tag would be the top five salaries in the league and not revert to the 2018 number even if Bell decides to skip the entire year,” Kaboly wrote.
Bell begrudgingly played last season under the franchise tag, but declined to do so in 2018. He would have earned $14.5 million this season had he signed the Steelers’ franchise tender, but decided to hold out in an effort to secure a more lucrative long-term contract with Pittsburgh or a trade to team willing to offer him one.
Many expect Bell to report to the Steelers by 4 p.m. ET next Tuesday, the deadline for eligibility to play this season, but he reportedly has had no contact with the Steelers this week, and the team remains in the dark about his plans.
With James Connor has proven his NFL mettle in Bell’s absence, the Steelers are unlikely to offer Bell a one-year $25 million franchise contract next season, meaning he’ll be able to test his market value as an unrestricted free agent.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images
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