According to ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler, Bell said Thursday he "would definitely consider" sitting out the 2018 season or retiring if the Steelers use the franchise tag on him for a second straight season. That number would be roughly $14.5 million for 2018, Bell's age-26 campaign. Even with Antonio Brown having an MVP-caliber season, one could argue that Bell is Pittsburgh's most important offensive player. That leaves it up to the Steelers to avoid the franchise tag and offer Bell a contract he can't refuse.
Bell has topped 1,200 rushing yards in three of his first five National Football League campaigns.
If Bell continues to insist he won't play under the franchise tag, the Steelers will have a tough decision to make. And Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell could be facing a second straight year of the tag.
They certainly can do other things to alleviate that issue, such as restructuring Ben Roethlisberger's contract (he's now at $23.2 million vs. the cap in what will be his age-36 season) or releasing a few veterans.
The three-time Pro Bowler played the 2017 season on a one-year tender worth $12.1 million. Bell sat out virtually all of training camp this summer before returning to the team September 1. If they win that game, it's on to the AFC championship.
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First of all, we're going to assume that Bell meant that he "couldn't care less". GM Kevin Colbert would then have to weigh what's best; for an aging roster and a Super Bowl window that might be closing, he could decide it behooves the team to get the 2018 selection.
Bell's earning power may never be higher than it is this offseason, so it's little surprise he's willing to do whatever it takes to get as much money as possible-whether from the Steelers or another team.
One of those picks could be used to select Bell's replacement, as the Steelers don't have a lot now on the roster at running back beyond James Conner, who ended his rookie season on IR with an MCL injury.