Bell does not plan to attend OTAs, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reports. Bell has already suggested -- barring a contract extension -- he'll follow a route similar to the one he took last year, when he first reported to team facilities in early September after the final exhibition game. He got off to a slow start with 37 carries for 119 yards and seven catches for 19 yards the first two weeks of the season, yet still managed to finish the year with 1,946 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games. The Steelers have until July 16 to sign Bell to a long-term contract, or else he'll play under the franchise tag for $14.54 million, then presumably find a new home next offseason. The team was reported to have interest in some of the top running backs in April's draft but ultimately didn't address the position until selecting hybrid RB/FB/TE Jaylen Samuel in the fifth round. This could be taken as a sign that there's still some hope of extending Bell, though prior negotiations don't seem to have come close to an agreement.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said the team has paused contract discussions with Bell to focus on free agency and the draft, Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com reports. The Steelers have until July 16 to sign Bell to a long-term contract, or else he'll play under the franchise tag for a second straight year. He recently said he doesn't intend to miss any games even if a deal isn't worked out, adding that he'd likely follow his path from last year when the running back waited until the preseason was over to report to the team. Bell disappointed in September and ultimately finished with what was easily his lowest yards per carry mark (4.0) since his rookie campaign, but he made it up to fantasy owners by piling up 321 carries, 85 receptions, 1,946 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games. A long-term contract likely would lower Bell's 2018 cap number ($14.54 million) by quite a bit, giving the Steelers added flexibility for the upcoming season. The team already seems to be preparing for the possibility this will Bell's last year in Pittsburgh, showing serious interest in potential first-round pick Derrius Guice, according to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.
Bell relayed Wednesday that he intends to play in 2018, be it under the Steelers' franchise tag or on a new long-term contract with the team, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. The Steelers tagged Bell on Tuesday, and the two parties now have until July 16 to work out an extension. In the event that a deal isn't worked out within that time frame, the running back noted that he's prepared to sit out training camp and other team activities, but confirmed his intention to make himself available to the Steelers in advance of Week 1 of the regular season. As Bell points out, such a scenario would be a "rerun of last year," in which the running back signed his franchise tender and reported to Pittsburgh just in time to be available for the season opener. With no reported injury concerns coming out of Pittsburgh's divisional-round loss to the Jaguars in January, Bell is poised to approach the 2018 campaign healthy and in a Steelers jersey, though just how much preseason preparation he'll have with his teammates remains to be seen.
Bell received the franchise tag prior to Tuesday's 4:00 p.m. EST deadline, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports. The Steelers were never going to let Bell test the open market and still haven't been able to work out a long-term agreement. The two sides presumably will continue negotiations, with Bell eventually expected to stage a lengthy holdout if he's forced to play under the franchise tag for a second straight year. The tag is worth approximately $14.5 million, but the Steelers likely would reduce Bell's 2018 cap figure if they were to hammer out a multi-year deal before the July 16 deadline.
Bell and the Steelers have yet to make major progress on a contract extension, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he hopes to sign Bell to an extension before the deadline for applying the franchise tag at 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday. Pittsburgh can still use the tag and continue negotiating after that point, but it's a scenario both sides presumably hope to avoid. Bell is targeting a contract that would comfortably make him the NFL's highest-paid running back in terms of average annual value, though a $14.5 million franchise tag technically would accomplish the same goal, sans the long-term security.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/16||Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
|3||09/25||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||19.13|
|13||12/02||Los Angeles Chargers||23||18.38|
|15||12/16||New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|16||12/23||@New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||232||1038||6||61||469||1||189|