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Early optimism between Steelers and Le’Veon Bell meaningless as another franchise tag looms

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The Steelers and Le’Veon Bell are headed for a second straight franchise tag.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It was nice while it lasted.

You know, Le’Veon Bell saying the two sides were closer than they were all of last year. Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II talking about Bell being signed to a long-term contract being the priority for the team this offseason.

All of that goes by the wayside when Ian Rapoport reported Monday morning the two sides don’t look as if they will be able to get a deal least not yet. In other words, the Steelers are prepared to place the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag on Bell for the second straight season.

The Steelers and Bell will still be able to work out a contract, even after placing the franchise tag on the talented running back, but if the past has shown anything it is how difficult it will be to come to an agreement on terms for a new deal.

Another wrinkle of this situation dates back to last season when Bell spoke about how he would contemplate retirement before playing under the franchise tag again for a second straight year. Bell made over $12 million for one year of service last season, and would make over $14 million if he played under the tag in 2018-2019. That’s a lot of money to turn down, but it doesn’t bring any security like a long-term contract does.

If Bell signs the franchise tag, it would be safe to assume the organization and fan base can expect another preseason hold out. Don’t expect Bell to be at any of the spring workouts, as well as training camp at Saint Vincent College. What might be interesting is if Bell would decide to participate in at least one preseason game considering the slow start he experienced when he finally reported to the team before their Week 1 game vs. the Browns last year.

Bell reportedly wants $30 million in guaranteed money, but it has become clear the Steelers are hesitant to put that kind of money into any one player who isn’t a franchise quarterback.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story as the deadline to franchise tag players gets closer.