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No Deal for Le’Veon Bell

July 16, 2018
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No Deal for Le’Veon Bell

There’s still a little over a half hour before the deadline, but it doesn’t look like the Steelers are going to make a deal today.

According to Jeremy Folwer of ESPN.com, a source said no deal was expected today for running back Le’Veon Bell, meaning he’ll play out the year on the franchise tag for the second year in a row.

The tag will earn him $14.5 million this year, but offers no long-term security.

Now the question becomes when he shows up. Training camp seems unlikely, and some are already suggesting that he might skip regular season games (though that would cost him $852,000 a week).

Bell will play the season under the franchise tag. Bell will make $14.54 million — all guaranteed — in 2018 after making $12.12 million under the tag in 2017. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport broke the news before Monday’s deadline.

Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bell may skip the first half of the season if forced to play under the franchise tag. This offseason, Bell initially said that he would contemplate retirement if he had to play the 2018 under the tag before quickly walking back those statements. Before being tagged on March 6, Bell said on social media that he would skip training camp for a second straight year but would sign his tender before the start of the regular season.

Bell has reportedly said that he ideally wants to make $17 million a season, the same amount that Antonio Brown currently makes. He has also said that he won’t play for fewer than $14.5 million a season, the total he will be paid this season if he plays under the franchise tag. Last month, speaking to NFL Network after receiving his No.5 finish on the network’s Top 100 list, Bell discussed his current contract situation.

Pittsburgh is prepared to be without Bell. Along with James Conner (who received rave reviews during spring practices), Pittsburgh drafted versatile back Jaylen Samuels in the fifth round. The Steelers also signed undrafted rookie Jarvion Franklin, who rushed for 4,867 yards and 52 touchdowns during his four years at Western Michigan. While they ultimately would like to have Bell, the Steelers have a collection of backs that could certainly hold their own if Bell does elect to skip the first half of the 2018 season.

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