ibusinesslines.com September 23, 2017

To play under franchise tag this season

17 July 2017, 11:57 | Charlene Valdez

To play under franchise tag this season

As today's deadline approaches, the Steelers' contract negotiations with Le'Veon Bell are down to the wire

Bell will become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, but the Steelers can work out a deal at the conclusion of the upcoming season or again can place the franchise tag on him. "We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season".

When Bell does ultimately sign his franchise tender, his $12.1 million salary will make him the highest-paid running back in the league on average. He has until 4 p.m. ET Monday to sign a long-term contract, avoiding the tag designation. If Washington uses the franchise tag a third time, it will cost them roughly $34 million in 2018.

Both sides have valid points in this conflict. Early in the offseason, general manager Kevin Colbert and team president Art Rooney II made clear publicly that Bell was a part of the long-term plans. He's only played 18 games the last two seasons, and has dealt with foot and knee injuries also (as well as a suspension), so the Steelers have reason to be a little cautious. Although he's expected to be fine for Week 1, Bell will take the field without the security of a long-term deal to remain with the Steelers.

NFL Network ranked Bell the No. 9 overall player in its 2017 rankings, in part for his elite receiving ability with 227 career catches.

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