Bell could receive a transition tag from the Steelers during the offseason, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Bell became ineligible for 2018 when he failed to report to the Steelers on Tuesday. He will now turn his focus to the upcoming offseason, at which point a third franchise tag would be prohibitively expensive for the Steelers, thus giving Bell all the leverage. The Steelers still have the option to use a transition tag for approximately $14.5 million, which would give them the right to match any offer sheet Bell signs with another team. The problem with that option is a lack of draft-pick compensation, whereas Pittsburgh likely would receive a mid-round pick if it simply allowed Bell to become an unrestricted free agent. The final option makes the most sense and would enable Bell to choose his next home without the Steelers having any involvement. He'll turn 27 years old in February and may find that some teams are worried about his year-long absence from football, even though the running back met his stated goal of avoiding wear and tear during a contract year.
Bell (contract dispute) won't report to the Steelers by Tuesday's 4 p.m. EST deadline, making him ineligible for the rest of the 2018 season, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. This was the expected outcome for Bell, despite reports of him being spotted in Pittsburgh last week. Bell will thus turn his attention to the offseason, when he could hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent unless the Steelers elect to use a transition tag on him. Despite skipping all of 2018, a number of teams will likely be vying for Bell's services, given his status as one of the league's best backs over the first five years of his career. As for the rest of this season, James Conner (concussion) -- who is expected to clear the NFL five-step protocol for head injuries Wednesday -- should remain the workhorse back for the Steelers. Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels also remain on hand as depth options.
Bell (contract dispute) isn't expected to report to the Steelers by Tuesday's deadline, which would make him ineligible to return this season, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Bell was spotted in Pittsburgh earlier this week but has yet to join the team and has offered no further indication he intends to report, even though owner Art Rooney II recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio he believed the running back would be in the fold by Tuesday. If Schefter's report comes to pass and the 26-year-old does end up taking off the full season, he'll apparently be content to head into free agency knowing Pittsburgh is unlikely to issue the franchise tag a third time, though it's worth noting the Steelers could try a transition tag angle. James Conner (concussion) would continue to act as the workhorse back for the Steelers if Bell remains away from the team, assuming Conner's head injury doesn't prove to be significant. Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels are the remaining running backs on the roster.
Owner Art Rooney II told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he believes Bell (contract dispute) will report to the Steelers by next Tuesday's deadline to sign the franchise tender. "I don't know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week," Rooney said of Bell on Thursday. "We know he's back in Pittsburgh and so we're hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we're kind of expecting he will be back next week." Rumor and innuendo have dominated Bell's holdout, with a will-he-or-won't-he report to Pittsburgh hanging over the situation throughout the offseason and into the regular season. This week, though, the first signs emerged that the running back is preparing to report. On Monday, he tweeted "Fairwell (sic) Miami," referencing where he's been staying in shape while away from football. By Wednesday, Bell was spotted playing a game of pickup basketball in Pittsburgh, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Despite his presence within striking distance of the Steelers' facilities, he's missing his ninth consecutive game Thursday against the Panthers. While Bell plays out the string with the only team he's ever known, James Conner will continue to serve as the Steelers' workhorse back.
Though Bell is eligible to receive a franchise tag for the third straight year in 2019, he would be tagged at the quarterback salary number, which is projected for approximately $25 million, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports. Bell has been dissatisfied with receiving the franchise tag for the last two years, but he would presumably be more receptive to the designation if it put him on track to earn an estimated $25 million, which would easily top the salary of any other running back. The Steelers presumably wouldn't be as interested in using the franchise tag on him in that scenario, however, though the team could pursue a transition tag that would keep Bell around at a more affordable price. As for the remainder of 2018, Bell has until Nov. 13 to sign a franchise tender in order to retain eligibility to play this season. The running back was reportedly spotted in the Pittsburgh area Wednesday, fueling speculation that he may soon report to the team and put pen to paper. Bell will at least remain unavailable through the Steelers' Week 10 matchup with the Panthers on Thursday, allowing James Conner to continue serving as the team's lead back.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||232||1038||6||61||469||1||189|