"Unfortunately, we were unable to agree to terms on a long-term contract with Le'Veon Bell prior to today's deadline", general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. The running back's decision apparently wasn't made without a competitive offer from the Steelers, though, as NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that Pittsburgh offered Bell a multiyear contract worth more than $12 million annually.
Not wanting to risk losing Bell as a free agent, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on their All-Pro running back in February.
The Steelers can tag the versatile Bell for the second straight season in 2018 at $14.54 million or re-sign him.
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This doesn't mean Bell is now a primadonna and has become less valuable in Pittsburgh. If these figures are correct, Bell's rejection of this deal is something of a surprise to the salary cap experts.
At that time, Bell will be 28-years-old, heading towards the latter part of his career, and will have a young and exciting back behind him. Bell stayed away from offseason workouts while recovering from groin surgery. At least, that's what they say publicly, but they drafted Pitt running back James Conner in the third round this year as insurance in the event Bell runs into more trouble. So that, coupled with the fact that the running back numbers are a little bit out of sorts, so to speak, just in relationship to all the players in the league right now.
Bell set franchise rushing records in the first two playoff games. Outside of another suspension or a very serious injury, he was more than likely going to see that money.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor will be in Latrobe, with the Steelers, again. He attended Steelers offseason practices in 2015 in an informal coaching role and has returned to Pittsburgh multiple times since in his role with the NFL Network.