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Steelers News: ESPN predicts the Steelers will not place a tag on Le’Veon Bell this offseason

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Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how ESPN recently predicted whether teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers will place a tag on a player within their control. You guessed it, they predicted the Steelers will pass on placing a tag on Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

Let’s get to the news:

2019 franchise tag candidates and predictions for all 32 NFL teams

By: ESPN

Will the Philadelphia Eagles find a trade partner for quarterback Nick Foles? The clock begins ticking Tuesday, when the NFL’s window for putting franchise tags on players opens.

The franchise tag is a labor designation that restricts a player’s potential movement in exchange for a high one-year salary. Each team can put the franchise tag on one pending free agent, a decision that is expensive but also provides massive leverage against losing a player, ensuring the team a hefty return if that player ultimately departs.

Teams have until March 5 (at 4 p.m. ET) to put franchise tags on their most valuable players.

The expected salary for quarterbacks with the franchise designation in 2019 is $25 million. The Eagles’ trade options hinge on the franchise designation -- they can’t carry Foles on the books at that number as a backup to Carson Wentz. But if there is competition among quarterback-needy teams who wish to sign Foles, the Eagles can put the tag on him and then make a trade.

Pro Bowl defenders Jadeveon Clowney and C.J. Mosley are among the other players who are candidates to be tagged this offseason.

NFL Nation reporters predict whether teams will use the tag and, if so, on which players (in alphabetical order by team):

Pittsburgh Steelers

Running back Le’Veon Bell

Designating Bell the franchise player for the third straight year is unlikely. Bell’s yearlong holdout broke goodwill with the team, and with many around the league believing his third tag is worth $20-plus million, Bell’s holdout notwithstanding, the Steelers either wouldn’t want to pay that or wouldn’t allocate the cap space to keep the tag in place. The transition tag is more tenable, especially if the Steelers can prove it’s worth around $9.5 million instead of $14.5 million because of Bell’s absence in 2018. But Bell can’t be traded unless he signs the tag or the Steelers utilize an offer sheet for a convoluted sign-and-trade plan, which is risky if other teams aren’t interested in the offer sheet’s numbers. Plus, the NFLPA would argue such a move violates the spirit of the tag and the collective bargaining agreement.

Prediction: The Steelers will not use any tag on Bell. -- Jeremy Fowler

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Tim Benz: Art Rooney II should forget about ‘smoothing things over’ with Antonio Brown

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The first time I heard about Steelers owner Art Rooney II desiring a meeting in Florida with Antonio Brown, it was during a sports radio top-of-the-hour update. It included the phrase, “in hopes of smoothing things over with his star wide receiver.”

On TV and radio talk shows, social media and in casual conversation, I heard that phrase and other similar ones.

• “Work things out”

• “Bury the hatchet”

• “Calm the waters”

I hope that’s not the case. I don’t want an iota of time in this pigskin summit — if and when it happens — dedicated to “smoothing things over.” This sit-down between Brown and Rooney should be exclusively aimed toward the goal of greasing the tracks to get Brown out of town.

Brown’s relationship with the Steelers can’t be repaired. If this wasn’t clear as of Friday, it should be now after some of Brown’s social media activity this weekend.

Rooney can’t bring Brown back into that facility after the way he ripped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin on Twitter.

Also, keep in mind how Brown “liked” a tweet from someone taking a shot at Roethlisberger by referencing the sexual assault allegations, which did not result in charges, that got him suspended in 2010.

Brown’s recent online behavior puts his name directly on criticism of Tomlin and Roethlisberger that heretofore had been levied only by his defenders. In the past, those sentiments had been speculated by others on Brown’s behalf. But now he’s doing it himself.

Let’s hope Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is part of the meeting. Based on the confusion resulting from Brown’s #AskAB Twitter Q&A on Saturday, someone is going to need to translate Brown’s incoherent and contradictory thought bubbles into the English language.

Here’s how the meeting should go. Rooney should say to Brown: “Antonio, we are going to try to trade you. Make it easy on us. Stop dyeing your mustache, winding up on the police blotter and acting like a jerk on social media. If you do, we’ll get it done.

“But if you don’t and make it impossible for us to swing a trade because you scare off the rest of the NFL and undermine your value, we’ll just keep you. If you don’t like that, don’t show up. We’ll happily keep your money in our pocket just like we did with Le’Veon Bell.”

Maybe that’ll wake up Brown. Those G.O.A.T. rings don’t pay for themselves.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Steelers OT Jerald Hawkins moving past losing 2 seasons to injury

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Spring can’t get here fast enough for Jerald Hawkins. He is certain his torn quadriceps injury will be fully healed in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organized team activities that take place between late April and early June.

“Oh yeah, most definitely,” the affable offensive tackle said just after the season ended. “I was ready now, man.”

Hawkins let out one of his hearty laughs.

“I would go out there right now, and I could. I am definitely, 100 percent, going to be going all over it (at OTAs).”

Hawkins arrived at a contract year seemingly in a flash. A fourth-round pick in 2016, he has lost two of his first three seasons to injury. He has played in five regular-season and five preseason games over his three NFL campaigns.

He has had only about three weeks of training-camp practices outside of a 2017 season in which he stayed healthy. As such, his injuries (a shoulder tear in August 2016, the torn quad during OTAs in May of last year) has clouded his future with the Steelers and in the NFL.

“It was tough at the beginning, very tough,” Hawkins said of dealing with this most recent injury and knowing another full season was lost. “I had been doing so well with the guys.

“But it got better. Just staying around the team, it got better each week. We had our ups and downs as a team as a whole, but other than that it was a pretty good year. Very humbling, but it was good.”

Hawkins probably doesn’t know who Bob Prince was, but he seems to share the “hidden vigorish” theory of the late Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster. He believes his time injured and away from the game is past him, that there will be something of a regression to the mean.

“Honestly, man, this probably had to be my third injury I have had to actually sit out from playing football, so I believe it’s probably done with,” Hawkins said. “It’s all out of the way. Three times and you’re done now, man. Had a little bad injury in college, and I had my two in the league so I pray I am done with that and I can just finally get on the field and honestly show them what I am all about.”

At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds and with quick feet after a standout high school basketball career, Hawkins at one point was viewed as the likely successor to Marcus Gilbert at right tackle.

After missing so much time, though, Hawkins is one of a crowded group jockeying for position on the depth chart. The Steelers took Chuks Okorafor in the third round of last year’s draft, and Matt Feiler filled in admirably for 10 games last season when Gilbert was out because of a knee injury. The Steelers also kept Zach Banner on their 53-man roster all season.

“You want to see that competition, and you want to see that depth on your team,” Hawkins said. “If you’re here, there’s a reason for it.”

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)