A year ago, when the Steelers were coming off their AFC Championship loss to the Patriots, the question regarding Le’Veon Bell’s contract status remains the same after the team’s playoff loss to the Jaguars.
Will Bell get the franchise tag? Or will he and the Steelers be able to figure out a long-term deal?
Last year it seemed as if it were a long-shot to get Bell locked up with a deal, keeping him in Pittsburgh for more than one year, and when Bell reportedly turned down the Steelers’ offer at the last possible minute, fans expected a duplicate situation this offseason.
However, according to Bell at the NFL Pro Bowl, the two sides are actually closer than they were last year to a new deal.
Le’Veon Bell said from the Pro Bowl that he and Steelers are in a ‘good spot’ regarding contract talks. Both sides already have been talking since season ended.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 24, 2018
Bell also said that Steelers already presented him with extension offer and he said they are lot closer than last year. @TheAthleticPIT— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 24, 2018
Le'Veon Bell: "I want to move forward and get things done." Bell said he hasn't been told if they are going to put franchise tag on him as a placeholder @TheAthleticPIT— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 24, 2018
What is shocking from these reports is how the Steelers have reportedly already offered Bell a contract offer, and likely to get a feel for what he is expecting. After having to settle for a franchise tag year in 2017, Bell wanted to be paid as a top running back, and a No. 2 wide receiver.
In other words, he bet on himself — and his gamble paid off.
Bell was every bit as dynamic in 2017 as he was in previous years, and he stayed healthy throughout a full season, something he hadn’t done in his professional career to date.
Will the two parties finally find some middle ground to keep Bell in Pittsburgh for year’s to come? That has yet to be seen, but the Steelers certainly can place the franchise tag on Bell, even if just to give them more time to work out a long-term deal.
When all is said and done, it is good to hear both sides aren’t just talking, but seem to want to get a deal done. For anyone who follows the team’s salary cap situation, signing Bell would mean the end of the road for several others in order to free up space for Bell’s contract.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and others, surrounding the black-and-gold.