NFL Network's Ian Rapoport sent out a tweet earlier this afternoon reporting the Pittsburgh Steelers and Antonio Brown are close to a long-term deal.
As things now stand, Brown is set to make $4.71 million in base salary in 2017, per Spotrac.
Brown and the Steelers have reached a five-year deal making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Brown is entering the final year of his deal. Once Bell signs the one-year franchise tender, it is guaranteed and can only be replaced by a long-term deal.
Although remaining a reliable presence in the Steelers' offensive backfield over the years, Bell did appear in a mere six regular season games back in 2015-2016 due to a devastating knee injury.
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Bell, who turned 25 last week, would have become an unrestricted free agent March 9. The two-time Pro Bowl selection became the first player in National Football League history to average more than 100 rushing yards per game and more than 50 receiving yards per game in one season. That was on full display following Pittsburgh's playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs when he live-streamed head coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Facebook Live.
Brown has been one of the league's best wideouts the past four seasons, leading the league in receptions twice and receiving yards once in that span.
For the third straight year, Bell's season ended in injury as he left the first half of the AFC Championship game with a groin injury. Bell totaled 1,884 scrimmage yards (1,268 rushing / 616 receiving), to go along with seven rushing touchdowns and two touchdown catches in 12 games played.