Steelers Place Franchise Tag On RB Le’Veon Bell

As expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers have placed the exclusive franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

While the exact amount of the 2017 franchise tag for running backs won’t be known until the league establishes their yearly salary cap number, it’s expected to come in north of $12 million.

The Steelers had until March 1 to place the tag on Bell as that is this year’s deadline. The team now has until July 15 to work out a long-term contract extension with their former second round draft pick out of Michigan State. If unable to do so, Bell will have to play the entire 2017 season under his franchise tag amount.

Several weeks ago, Steelers team president Art Rooney II talked about the prospects of Bell receiving the franchise tag from the team and eventually a long-term contract extension during his annual end-of-the-season talk with the local media.

“It’s certainly something that’s available to us and we’re still in the early stages of kind of mapping out our offseason plans here and evaluating how to allocate resources, things like that,” Rooney said of the franchise tag. “But it’s certainly a tool that we have available to us and I think bottom line is we feel Le’Veon’s future is bright and hopefully he’s going to be with us for several years to come.”

Bell, who has missed five games over the course of the last two seasons due to multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy, rushed for 1,268 yards and 7 touchdowns on 261 total regular season carries in 2016. He also caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

After the 2016 season ended, Bell announced that he might have to undergo groin surgery during the offseason as he was waiting to get a third opinion after returning from Houston following several media appearances during the week leading up to Super Bowl LI. Even if the running back does need surgery, he said he would expect to be back training again in April. As of last week, Bell is not expected to need surgery.

The Steelers last tagged an unrestricted free agent of theirs in 2014 when former outside linebacker Jason Worilds was issued the transition variety. The Steelers failed to work out a long-term contract extension with Worilds after tagging him and the former second round draft pick out of Virginia Tech ultimately decided to retire from the NFL in March of 2015.

  • JohnB

    flag, brag, slag, bag, gag, drag, shag, wag, swag, zag, snag, stag, Jag, ….just a lil help for his next rap song.

  • 6 ring circus

    Dominoes about to start falling…Good start.

  • T3xassteelers


  • Jeff Papiernik

    And cows go moo

  • Steelking406

    Stay healthy young man!!

  • Superdriller316

    Why does it take the NFL so long to put out what the new cap is and what the price is for a tags? I should assume that the teams know but not telling.

  • Joey

    This should have like 8 thousand up votes….

  • NW86

    And in other news, it has been announced that the Earth is round and it revolves around the Sun.

    You would think the cap numbers should be out by now. The tag deadline is in 2 days and free agency starts in a week. Teams have a right to know exactly what they are working with by now.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Damn you Adrian Peterson.

    12mil/yr is a lot of money for a RB.
    I love Bell but I really hope that’s not the bar for his long-term deal.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Kyrie Irving disagrees with your assessment on the Earth

  • OMG I can’t believe it! LOL

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Had to be done. Now work out something long term.

  • Steve Johnson

    Bad move.

  • SteelersDepot

    lol. how so?

  • RickM

    And now the hard decision-making process will begin in earnest.

  • Brendon Glad

    Perfect move. Let him go another year and make sure he stays clean and doesn’t keep breaking down. But he’s definitely a special player so I don’t want to lose him unless he loses his own self.

  • Zarbor

    Lets see, Best RB in the league. MVP of the team. Big reason for QB protection. Very good WR. BTW almost 1900 yds and missed 4 games…..Pay that man.

  • steelersfan

    Hopefully this will mark the official end to the AB or Bell debate. They’re both steeler lifers

  • steelersfan

    I don’t get it

  • steelersfan

    Oh it rhymes with tag? Haha sorry

  • PaeperCup

    Gonna need them to hold down the fort when Ben retires.

  • Frag, lag, mag, rag, nag, f@g, hag, sag, tag

  • Jaybird

    It’s a happy day. No talk of Ben retiring, drug suspensions , Golson breaking his ankle stepping off a curb , or drafting another LB who reminds people of Jarvis Jones.

  • Gerald Brown

    Haters gonna hate

  • Shane Mitchell

    Do we have any cap space left after these two deals?

  • NYCSteelCurtain

    Yes, should be around 23M or so.

  • steelburg

    Good signing glad it got done let’s get all the obvious moves out the way and let’s grab a sleeper or 2 in FA.

  • PaeperCup

    lol….it’s still early.

  • Jason

    Yeah should have let him walk. He’s only the best back in the league and our 2nd best receiver.

  • Jason


  • Shane Mitchell

    Thats more than I thought we would have left, I was getting worried.

  • Sdale

    Is that counting the 6-7 we have to set aside for draft pics NYC?

  • Jones

    He’s not just an RB. He’s a blocker & a WR. Expensive for a RB, cheap for an all-around weapon.

  • Bonnie Powell


  • Darth Blount 47

    First step of the process. Kinda nice to see both Bell and Brown get locked in for the future. If only we could have gotten the… “Big Ben Roethlisberger CONFIRMS he will return for the 2017 season” news… then it would have been the perfect day.

    Now I will be waiting to see the terms of the Bell extension. The Brown one was sort of easy to figure. May have been just a tad more than I thought, but totally in the realm. How much exactly they are planning on offering to Bell, well, I’d like to be a fly on the wall for these negotiations. Get it done, Colbert/Khan. GET. IT. DONE. And try to bring this plane in for a soft landing.

  • Jones

    “I’ll take, ‘things you say when you know dick about football’, Alex”

  • TroymanianDevil

    Obviously. I want him on the team. You missed the point.

    The point was that the franchise tag is that high b/c of Peterson. Had the franchise tag been lower, the bar that Bell would ask for would have to be lower. The extra 2mil/yr that would’ve been saved had Peterson’s contract not existed could’ve gone towards paying a better .. CB ..or EDGE rusher ..

  • TroymanianDevil

    I’m fully aware of Bell’s skill set.
    But we have different definitions of cheap. You realize 8.1mil/yr makes him the highest paid RB right? 12mil/yr is 50% higher than the highest paid RB right now ( assuming Peterson doesn’t come back on his deal which we all know he won’t)

    Look my all analysis is with regard to the cap. And how the cap should be managed.
    I love Bell and I fully value is versatility. He should and will be the highest paid RB. But that could’ve been accomplished at a number lower than 12mil/yr .. that’s all I’m saying

  • Michael Mosgrove

    5.5 mill for draft picks, probably 10 mil for tuitt and still gotta get deebo and cockrell. hopefully deebos is like 7 mill and cockrell is cheap like 3 mill.

  • Zarbor

    No my friend, you are the one that missed the point. Sometimes a guy is worth the extra 2 million. In the case of Bell he is worth even more than that. Even Peterson in his prime did not do all that Bell does.

    Go save money elsewhere.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Ya sure an extra 2mil would’ve been fine. That’s what I was anticipating. This is 4.5mil extra. 8.1mil would’ve made his the highest paid RB in the league ( once Peterson is cut or deal is reworked), you realize that right? A special player deserves to be paid the highest paid at his position right? Agreed, I was for that and more. Give him the extra 2mil/yr, so 10mil/yr. He’s 20% higher than the current highest paid RB at that price 10mil. I’m all for it, for reasons all Steelers fans can list. He really is that awesome.

    But 12.5mil/year? that’s tough. And 12.5mil/yr is fine if its just the franchise tag year. Spending 2.5mil extra one year is fine, like you said, special player and I agree. 2.5mil/yr extra over 10mil/yr for 5 years. No. All I said originally is I don’t want his deal to average 12.5mil/yr. That’s 56% higher than the current highest RB ( again taking out Peterson, b/c his deal won’t last). That’s an absurd increase. When the current highest RB is getting 40mil for 5 years. Bell shouldn’t get 62.5mil for the same 5 years. He’s not worth 22.5 mil more money than the highest paid RB. Again I love Bell. He’s special. We have to keep him. But 5yr/50mil is more than fair. That’s 10mil higher than the highest paid RB. He’s that good. But 22.5mil more? I don’t know

  • Roger G

    “It’s…..the daily double.”

  • Zarbor

    Alright, let me help get you off the ledge before you jump. Its a one year tag. They have time to work out a long term deal. Relax. Also the tag is based on last year’s salary not the new deal so it 12mil for one year unless they franchise him again.

    Steelers will never mortgage away our future unless we have the opportunity to win multiple Lombardis.

  • LucasY59

    Tuitts deal will be less than 10 mil against the cap (because of signing bonus)

  • TroymanianDevil

    I’m not on any ledge. All I said was I “hope” that his average salary is not 12.5mil/yr. That’s literally all I originally said. I didn’t even say I wouldn’t pay him that much, just that’s it quite a lot for an RB (no matter how talented).

    And the future should never be mortgaged. Look how long it took to get back after the last time it was done, with Woodley and some of those overpayings, with no Lombardis to show for it

  • LucasY59

    Bell is not for sure yet, but it is looking like it will be that way

  • LucasY59

    they will try and sign him to a long term deal, this is just a move to keep him from getting a outside FA offer that would drive up his cost even more

  • Don

    Guess he sees it as self-evident? I think I’ll disagree.

  • Don

    50% higher than the highest RB doesn’t make sense. I’m not a capologist, but I thought the franchise tag would give him the average of the top 5?

  • Brendon Glad

    Yep…he’s the greatest RB I’ve ever seen in my lifetime…but I don’t blame them for the patience. Aryan Foster was great too…for awhile. Until he never stopped breaking down. So L Bell does have some things still left to prove. And then the drug-policy-thing forever will loom too.

  • TroymanianDevil

    That’s what I thought as well. But that’s apparently not the case.
    After Peterson’s contract becomes history, LeSean McCoy is the highest paid RB at 8.01mil/yr. The average salaries is less than 9 mil/yr. There’s apparently another way to calculate franchise tag numbers. It’s by a certain percentage of the cap. That number for RBs is 7% ( ish) , which translates to 12.5 mil this year. The higher of the 2 numbers is taken.. so yes Bell’s franchise tag number of 12.5mil/yr is 56% higher than LeSean McCoy, the highest paid RB currently

  • mokhkw

    DB explained this on the podcast last week but it seems not everyone understands the Tag price.

    It doesn’t just count the Top 5 paid RBs for 2017, it takes into account the last 4 seasons as well.

    So $12mil is a lot closer than $9mil to what the actual tag price will be for Bell in 2017, regardless of what happens to AD.

  • mokhkw

    It’s way worse than that…. 😉

    Yards from scrimmage per game for NFL Players All-Time (Min. 45 games)

    1. Bell
    2. Brown.

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  • Jason

    Comment of the day candidate.

  • will

    How many votes is that??

  • will

    You are really invested!

  • will

    How much is that?

  • will

    Please explain how Bell is locked in for the future. Thank you.

  • will

    So does CNN

  • TroymanianDevil

    Sure. But the last several years numbers are way under 10mil also. Dave posted in a response to my comment, apparently there is an alternative method to calc the numbers and the higher of the 2 is taken. That way is based on percentage of the cap, since the cap rose a lot, so did the franchise tag number. Look at the article Dave posted under my comment for further details

  • Darth Blount 47

    He got tagged. Therefore, it’s a guarantee that he’s now here for 2017/18. IE… The future. Now if I would have said “long term,” that would be different. Although, we can read into the tagging, just as you read into the word, “future.” At his current tagged rate, there is quite the impetus to get that long term deal done with a guy that has said he wants to be a “Steeler for life.” And if somehow we don’t, something I believe is high unlikely, then we always have the option of tagging him next year as well and trying all over again. And if he performs anywhere near where he did last season, but isn’t under that long term deal, as much as it may sting, we’ll tag him again next year for certain. So for the foreseeable future, Bell will be a Steeler. And as my comments stated after the first line… it’s all about the negotiations with Colbert, to get that extension done. And they will. This year probably, or next. But if he wouldn’t have been tagged this year to get the ball rolling, Bell wouldn’t have been here for the future OR long term.

  • Steve Johnson

    He has missed 14 games the past two seasons due to injuries, drug suspensions. He’s not durable, cannot be trusted.

  • will

    He is here for one year only right now. That is not the future IMO. Tag in 2018 is speculation. Agree with your points of view.