The ongoing contract struggles between the Pittsburgh Steelers and superstarstar running back Le’Veon Bell appear to be nearing an end. And not in a way that will keep Bell in Pittsburgh beyond the coming NFL season.
The Steelers have placed the franchise tag on Bell for the second year in a row, after failing to come to terms on a long-term contract with the offensive star. Bell has repeatedly said he wants a long-term deal that is on par with the other elite running backs in the NFL, but the Steelers have refused to budge. The inevitable divorce between the team and the player now seems to be drawing near, as Bell will likely sit out training camp and seek a new employer in the offseason.
I’m told Le’Veon Bell‘s tentative plan is to miss Steelers training camp but be ready for the regular season, and that missing games over the contract would be a shock. The Steelers also expect him to play a full season. Bell still has time to consider all options, though.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 17, 2018
It’s been reported that the Steelers final offer was a five-year, $70 million deal. Bell turned it down, but promised that 2018 would be his best year yet.
to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler…both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times…to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let youu down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date…
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 16, 2018
Bell will make $14.5 million in 2018 under the franchise tag. The Steelers released a statement saying they were hopeful a long-term deal could be worked out next offseason, but Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari told Adam Schefter that such a scenario was unlikely.
“His intention was to retire as a Steeler,” Bakari said. “But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will be Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler.”
“It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player,” Bakari added.
Bell’s contract has one of the highest annual values at $14.5 million, but he’s seeking the security of a long-term, mostly guaranteed deal.