The Pittsburgh Steelers and star running back Le’Veon Bell are putting contract negotiations on the back burner. The Steelers used their franchise tag on Bell for the second consecutive season, but the Pro Bowl back wants a longer deal.
The franchise tag makes it so that other teams can’t offer Bell a contract. Each team has one tag per season, and the Steelers went with Bell in back-to-back years.
The former Michigan State player has expressed his desire for a long-term deal since being hit with the first tag last offseason. The franchise tag pays $14.5 million for one season.
Bell has said he wants a deal that pays him $14.5 million per year but is seeking a long-term contract.
Steelers executives say they plan on getting back to negotiations with Bell soon
For now, they want to focus on free agents and the upcoming NFL draft, which takes place in April.
The team wants to fill out the roster before having to decide on Bell. Once the draft passes, they’ll have a better idea of the money available to offer their star running back.
The team has until July 16th to sign Bell to a multiyear contract.
If the two sides can’t reach a deal, the Steelers could be in trouble. Bell has stated that he would consider sitting out part of the season if not given a new contract. Last year, after the first franchise tag, Bell sat out all of training camp. He did, however, return for regular season games.
This time, though, things could be different. Reports say that Bell will consider missing regular season games if he has to play under the tag. To be eligible for free agency next summer, Bell would have to report to the team before Week 10.
Le’Veon Bell is a crucial factor in the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh is a perennial Super Bowl contender in the AFC. Without Bell, though, they could struggle to set themselves up for another playoff run.