The league-imposed deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign Le’Veon Bell to long-term contract passed on Monday at 4 p.m ET without any fanfare after both sides were once again unable to come to an agreement on a new deal. Adam Schefter of ESPN was one of the first to confirm the news via Twitter.
No deal for Steelers and RB Le'Veon Bell.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2018
No deal for Cowboys and DeMarcus Lawrence.
No deal for Lions and Ziggy Ansah.
No deal for Rams and Lamarcus Joyner.
A dud of a deadline day.
But the Free Agent Class of 2019 just got stronger.
As per NFL rules, negotiations toward an extension cannot now resume until after the end of the regular season, assuming they ever do.
Bell will play under the franchise tag in 2018 and will earn a salary of $14.544 million this year. Lacking a new deal, Bell is unlikely to attend training camp, just as he did in 2017 when the two side failed to agree to an extension. Ultimately, Bell arrived at team facilities on September 1 having missed all four preseason games and every day of training camp.
With the cost of a third franchise tag for Bell likely to cost in the region of $30 million in 2019, Pittsburgh will not tag him again and it seems almost certain that Bell will hit the open market next year.
While Bell has made several statements recently regarding his plans for the offseason if an extension was not forthcoming, he has generally suggested he would be back with the team before the regular season began. However, once it is obvious to him that he will be playing elsewhere in 2019, Bell may yet have a change of heart about his holdout.
Needing only report to team facilities before Week 10 of the 2018 season to be eligible for free agency next year, Bell could decide to extend his holdout into the regular season. An option Schefter suggested was a possibility earlier in the day.
Whoa.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) July 16, 2018
"I think it's possible Le'Veon Bell sits out first half of the year if he doesn't get a long term deal done." -@AdamSchefter on @SiriusXMNFL.
"The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches."
It should be noted that while Bell’s absence from training camp will be characterized as a holdout by the media, until he signs the franchise tag, Bell is not technically under contract and cannot be fined for missing practice and preseason games.