No surprise here, but sources “around the league” expect the Steelers to use the $12.377MM franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. From there, the Steelers will try and hammer out a long-term extension with him.
Despite Bell’s off-the-field missteps, he is one of the very best running backs in the NFL and the Steelers do not want to let him get away. Despite playing in only ten games so far this year, Bell is fourth in total rushing yards with 1,053 and that’s not factoring in the damage he has done as a receiver. He has averaged 105.3 yards per game this year, making him a close second behind Ezekiel Elliott. No other running back is averaging more than 88 yards per contest this year.
Schefter says a long-term deal is “likely” and that pact should put him among the highest-paid running backs in the NFL. Currently, Adrian Peterson has the most lucrative deal of any RB with a six-year, $85.28MM deal signed in 2011. Bell may not top Peterson’s $14MM/year average, but I would wager that he’d net five figures per year on a multi-year contract. LeSean McCoy of the Bills is currently second in AAV with $8MM+/year and Bell should easily surpass that.
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