It sounds likely the Pittsburgh Steelers will place the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, even if that is, as both sides hope, temporary. Right now, it’s the only way to prevent him from hitting free agency. Just don’t expect it to happen today. Or tomorrow.
What is most likely is for the team not to place the tag on Bell until the deadline nears. Starting yesterday, teams could begin placing the tag on players with a March 6th at 4 PM (when NFL offices close) deadline.
You don’t have to look any further than last year for proof. It wasn’t until February 27th that the Steelers hit Bell with it, working ahead of a March 1st deadline.
It’s all about working in good faith. Put the tag on him now and you run the risk of shutting down negotiations and creating additional tension. It’s a sign there’s a lack of desire to work on a deal and avoid the tag altogether. Kevin Colbert has been adamant they’ll only use the tag if they have to so rushing to put it on Bell would be hypocritical and probably tank talks before they begin.
That’s why many speculate the Miami Dolphins tagging Jarvis Landry yesterday is a sign that want to trade him, not retain. You can expect the other players in line for the same, like Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence, to get hit closer to the deadline.
Don’t believe any “report” that says Bell is going to be tagged within the next 24 hours or anytime this week, as some have speculated/passed along already. The tag can wait. For now, hopefully, each side will get together to at least try to figure out a long-term deal. I still think that’s unlikely to happen, and if it does, not until the summer (again, near the deadline) but there’s no reason to be hasty with the franchise designation.