Bell’s determination means the All-Professional working again is leaving the $14.5 million franchise tag on the desk and can turn out to be a free agent this winter, when the bidding will start.
Bell, who’s at the moment in Pittsburgh, is lacking the season to protect his long-term viability for a 2019 contract regardless of telling ESPN on Oct. 1 that he would play in 2018.
“I will be totally dedicated and provide you with every part I’ve,” Bell stated then. “I nonetheless wish to go on the market and win a Tremendous Bowl with the Steelers.”
Rocky franchise-tag negotiations created distance between Bell and the Steelers. Bell missed 2017 coaching camp when each side could not agree on a contract, and he finally performed on a $12.12 million tag. He took it a step additional this 12 months by lacking video games after turning down a five-year, $70 million supply due to what Bell calls a low true assure of $17 million. Bell has been capable of keep away as a result of he is unsigned.
The Steelers explored dealing Bell earlier than the Oct. 30 commerce deadline, however no deal was potential with out his signature. A 3rd franchise tag in 2019 would rise to $25 million-plus — based mostly on a components involving the 5 highest-paid gamers within the league – no matter whether or not Bell performed a down in 2018. Within the offseason, the Steelers will think about using a $14.5 million transition tag, which permits them to match any outdoors supply for Bell or let him stroll in free company. If he indicators a profitable deal elsewhere, the Steelers would obtain a mid-round compensatory draft decide.
Bell’s alternative, James Conner, is third within the NFL in speeding yards (771) and speeding touchdowns (10). He additionally leads the league with eight runs of 20-plus yards.
Teammates as soon as imagined the probabilities with an All-Professional tailback and an rising weapon working collectively. Now, after 5 consecutive wins, they’ve moved previous that fantasy.
“I am not going to touch upon somebody who’s not on this locker room proper now,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stated when requested about Bell after Thursday’s 52-21 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Mentioned broad receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster final month: “[In Conner], you have acquired a younger dude who’s simply proving what he can do, to Steeler followers and the nation.”
Gamers had been shocked when Bell did not present for Week 1, together with his personal offensive line ripping him for the absence. Guard Ramon Foster and heart Maurkice Pouncey each labeled the transfer egocentric. One veteran participant advised ESPN anonymously: “He f—ed us.”
Issues have cooled since then, and lots of had stated they’d welcome Bell again. That is a moot level now.
When requested what occurs if Bell by no means returns to the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin stated Tuesday afternoon, “So be it.”Bell, who will flip 27 in February, had been coaching in South Florida and, in July through social media, tweeted this season can be his “finest thus far.”
Bell produced practically 2,000 complete yards final 12 months however began slowly, averaging 3.46 yards per carry via the primary three weeks of the season. Bell’s common of 128.9 complete yards per recreation from 2013 to 2017 is the best for an NFL again over the primary 5 seasons of a profession for the reason that NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
Up till late final week, the Steelers had been bracing for the return of Bell, who performed basketball at a neighborhood LA Health final week. However ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported this previous weekend that Bell was unlikely to indicate.
“I do not know what his plans are, however I might say that at this level, we anticipate him to come back again subsequent week,” group president Artwork Rooney II advised SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday. “We all know he is again in Pittsburgh, and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend, and we’re form of anticipating he can be again subsequent week.”