Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell hasn’t signed his franchise tag yet and is still hoping he can reach a long-term deal with Pittsburgh. But he won’t sign a deal for anything less $14.5 million a year.
Bell is hands down the best running back in the league and repeatedly franchise tagging him is already getting expensive for the Steelers, but $14.5 million annually would be a huge contract for a running back.
Absent that chance — a long-term deal reached before the July 16 deadline — Steelers players are left to reconcile two agendas: wanting the All-Pro back to get paid, and wanting him back on the field.
Bell told ESPN he won’t accept an extension worth less than $14.5 million per year, his franchise tag number for 2018. If the sides fail to reach a deal, Bell will play out a one-year deal at that number. But he’s not under contract because he hasn’t signed that tag, and he might not do so for a while.
Don’t expect a ton of movement on this any time soon. Bell will likely sit out and not sign the franchise tag until right before the season. Meaning that anything short of what Bell is asking for will have the two sides doing this same dance next season.