March 6 was the last day for teams to use the franchise tag designation and the Steelers used it on Le’Veon Bell for the second consecutive year. They used the exclusive designation which means Bell can only negotiate with the Steelers.
Bell and the Steelers have until July 16 to reach a long term deal. If they don’t, he’ll make $14.544 million this season.
“We’re not coming to a number we both agree on — they are too low, or I guess they feel I’m too high,” Bell told ESPN on Monday. “I’m playing for strictly my value to the team. That’s what I’m asking. I don’t think I should settle for anything less than what I’m valued at.”
This can be considered a lose-lose situation for both sides. Bell wants a long term deal but if the Steelers overwork him this year, he faces the possibility of injury or breaking down. The Steelers face another year of turmoil as Bell might sit out all of training camp, sit out some games and cause a major distraction. Bell has hinted that he would sit out all year or retire if the Steelers place the franchise tag on him.
This also places the Steelers with little cap space. As of now they are over $9 million over the cap and must be under the cap by March 14.