Steelers Expected To Use Transition Tag On Le’Veon Bell

Even though nothing is ever certain when it comes to Le’Veon Bell, it does not appear that Bell will report to the Steelers by the November 13 deadline, which means that he will be ineligible to play at all in 2018 (although he would still be eligible for the third-year franchise tag amount of $25MM+). Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network acknowledges that, when Bell’s camp learned that his franchise tag price would be unaffected even if he stayed away from the team for the entire year, that seemed to tip the scales in favor of a year-long holdout (video link).

Of course, the Steelers are not going to put the franchise tag on Bell, which means, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, that the team is likely to hit him with the transition tag. That designation would allow Pittsburgh to match any offer sheet that Bell signs with a different club, but the Steelers would not receive any draft compensation in return if they elected to not match (and they almost assuredly will not match).

So even though it is mostly a moot point, the league is preparing for how the transition tag process will unfold. As La Canfora writes, the transition tag value could fall anywhere between $9.5MM and $14.5MM, and once the tag is put on, a hearing would be scheduled for an arbitrator to decide on precisely what the amount of the tag should be.

La Canfora suggests that a team could front-load an offer to Bell or guarantee him money beyond the first two years of a contract in order to entice him to sign, but he also suggests that the demand for Bell’s services could be quite tepid. Bell’s holdout and his injury/suspension history will surely give his potential suitors some pause, as will the fact that he will be another year older in 2019. While he is certainly preserving his body by not playing in 2018, Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network tweets that there are a number of “football folks” who believe that age is age and whether Bell plays this year or not will have no impact on his performance moving forward. It would certainly be interesting if the Steelers end up applying the transition tag and Bell does not get the type of interest he is clearly anticipating on the open market, because then he may have no other choice but to sign the tag and return to Pittsburgh in 2019.

More important to the Steelers at the moment is the health of James Conner, who has excelled in Bell’s absence. Conner remains in the concussion protocol, but Rapoport says the Steelers are optimistic that the second-year back will not miss any time. They would, however, love to have Bell back, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB writes. They believe he truly can be deadly on fresh legs and would enhance an already excellent offense. As Bell has still not said anything definitive to the team one way or another, Pittsburgh is hoping to see him walk through the door prior to the deadline.

Assuming Bell does not appear, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that, in addition to the $14.5MM he would have received this year if he had signed his franchise tag, he will also miss out on another $200K in pension, annuity, 401K, and health reimbursement benefits, plus however that money would compound over time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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40 comments on “Steelers Expected To Use Transition Tag On Le’Veon Bell

  1. duke1776

    Anyone that throws away 14.5 million dollars is a moron. This is purely ego driven.

    • manos

      Exactly. He wants to prove he’s in the position of power which is clearly not the case. He just looks like a selfish moron instead. If he were smart he would have accepted the franchise tag, played, demanded a trade and we would have been moved and extended weeks ago.

      • tsolid

        If he played and then demanded a trade would you not think he is selfish? Of course you would, b/c you’re and idiot. The man has a right to do whatever he wants when it comes to making a business decision. If you think he won’t get paid next year you’re an IDIOT

        • Ronk325

          Bell has proven that he’s selfish and isn’t a team player. We’ve also seen Conner (a first year starter) come in and show he can do everything Bell can. Any GM who gives Bell more than $10 mil a year is an IDIOT

          • va_yinzer

            Agreed. The Rooney’s are not idiots. Running backs are a dime a dozen in today’s game. Tsolid is the idiot. Maybe he works for the Browns.

            • tsolid

              WOW! Butthurt Steeler fan that thinks HE owns the player. The QB in Pittsburgh is one of the biggest sexual deviants that got away with it. Oh yea… remember his suspensions and injuries, IDIOT

              • madmanTX

                The only butthurt person here sounds like you. You hate the Steelers so much that you come on here and bash the fans? Got trophy envy or just need to change your maxi pad? STFU

          • LordBanana

            Bell has provided tons of value for the team and they gave him a pitiful contract offer. I didn’t know being a team player meant accepting whatever ownership gives you.

            • va_yinzer

              Tons of value? Injuries and suspensions factor just as much as your performance on the field. Ownership offered an extremely fair deal based on his career on and off the field. How can you give a player a guaranteed contract when you have had knee injuries and drug charges?

              • LordBanana

                Yeah that’s fair, just like your can’t blame the player for not wanting to take a contract with no guaranteed money. I don’t have a problem with what either side has done it is completely equivalent.

                My point is that Bell is seen as “selfish” for trying to get the best deal for himself but the team isn’t selfish for doing the same. Both team and player should be looking out for themselves.

                • Ronk325

                  If I’m not mistaken Bell would have been the 2nd highest paid RB in the league this year behind only Gurley. $14.5 mil is far from a pitiful contract offer and seeing as Conner has given the Steelers great production while on a rookie deal proves they were smart to not increase their offer

                  • yanksknicks

                    The point is that it’s not guaranteed money. So they could cut him and not lose much. Keep up.

                    • Ronk325

                      It is absolutely hilarious when morons like you post false nonsense then have the audacity to say keep up at the end. Franchise tags are fully guaranteed. If Bell played on the tag this year he would have been guaranteed the full $14.5 mil regardless of what happened. Now are you done embarrassing yourself?

                      • yanksknicks

                        He’s passing up 14.5 guaranteed for a larger guaranteed amount on his next contract. The offer he rejected from the steelers was definitely a lowball. It’s simple math. Not worth the injury risk. Not embarrassing myself.

                        • Ronk325

                          Bell has to make $42 over the next season to make up for the money he forfeited this season. No team in their right mind is giving him that much money. Would you say it’s a detriment or a blessing to be so stupid?

                          • yanksknicks

                            Earl Thomas wishes he was as stupid as Bell and I am. Unfortunately he’s as smart as you.

                            • Ronk325

                              Earl Thomas has nobody to blame but himself. He showed up out of shape and unsurprisingly got hurt. He also should have never signed an extension with the Seahawks if he was so unhappy there. He would have been a free agent 4 years ago and could have gone elsewhere. Do you have any more bad comparisons to make tonight?

          • jkurk_22

            If I was player, the way injuries happen in the nfl, I wouldn’t be a team player either. Since contracts aren’t fully guaranteed it’s honestly smart to not be a team player. Which is why I think the caps should be raised quit a bit and there should be a rule change to make contracts have to be at least 75% guaranteed. If contacts are 75% or more guaranteed then I believe more players would worry less about the money and more about winning. Then and only then I would think players are winners/greedy for doing things like this. And as a side note I say get ride of all these crazy tags. Replace them with one compensation tag (something similar to what mlb has). The players have every right to be this way in a league with jacked up rules (and yeah I know the players union agreed to the rules, but that doesn’t mean each of these players did). ⬇️

      • Vedder80

        How’d that work out for Earl Thomas? Probably cost him about $20-$30mil in guaranteed money.

        • triumph13

          This.
          Bell may have cost himself a ton of money this year, but if he played and got hurt – he would’ve cost himself 3x as much.
          I hate to see guys hold out, because to me it shows little respect to the history of the game, and his personal standing in it. But I can understand it… it’s a business, one where Bell is trying to maximize his career earnings.

          • tsolid

            Well… if you understand it’s a business then it has nothing to do with the “history of the game”. So, which one is it?

            • triumph13

              Yes, it can be both.

              In this case – I understand Bell saying “it’s JUST business” (which I haven’t heard him say but assume), because running backs have short careers – he just wants to make as much money as possible in that short amount of time.

              Still – while his sitting out a season might not hurt him financially, it will affect his standing in the game. He will always be considered a player who didn’t love the game. I’m sure many in the city of Pittsburgh feel he let them down for his own personal gain. When his career is over – they stats will be diminished, which will hurt his standing in comparison to other great RBs in history.

              And before you say it – no, I don’t think he cares about these things., which goes back to my original statement.

    • slpdajab55

      Agreed .. tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Take what you can get when you can get it .. 10 years from now he will reflect on this and regret passing this money up. Especially , in my humble opinion, while he is talented he is also a product of a great system … ala James Connor and Deangalo Williams .. not every team has the talent on the outside to open things up for him as a running back. Have the teams league he would Lamar Miller at best.

    • Kenleyfornia74

      After what happened to Earl Thomas you are really going to say this? He is worth more than 14.5 million dollars guarenteed. At least double.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Comparisons between Thomas and Bell are pretty worthless. Thomas is 3 years older than Bell and plays a defensive position that does not have the same impact as RB.

    • LordBanana

      You work a job to earn money, is it’s not worth it or you think you can earn more elsewhere do what you want to do. Of course it’s ego driven, he doesn’t play football as a public service.

      Makes no sense that Bell gets trashed for being “selfish” when the Steelers would hardly give him any long term guaranteed money. After all the value he’s given the team they offered him the choice of a one year deal or a poor long term offer. Why are we surprised or upset that he didn’t take either?

      • crosseyedlemon

        I’m not at all surprised or upset. The reality is that almost every all pro caliber player in the NFL hates the current tag system. Next season we will probably be rehashing these same arguments with a different team and another “selfish” player.

      • tsolid

        Thank you LordBanana! But what about the injuries & suspensions? What about when #7 was suspended and his injury prone career. Hypocrites they are

  2. antsmith7

    Good news for the Steelers is they have a great, young replacement. Bad news is if anything happens to him they’re screwed at RB.

  3. Michael Chaney

    What’s the point of using the transition tag if they won’t match any offers for him? They’re just punting away a chance to get a compensatory pick at that point. Am I missing something?

    • Kevin Smith

      I agree, but my opinion is they are just trying to prove some sort of dumb point. Its a pissing match at this point between the two sides.

  4. Bill Jasper

    Couldn’t the Steelers still theoretically franchise Bell? They are carrying over the $15 million from the tag they didn’t spend this year. So, at $25 million, they could apply the tag again and only be using $10 million dollars of 2019 cap space.

    • YanksTilliDie

      Bill, I would’ve thought the same thing but that’s not how the NFL cap works. His cap number for 2019 would be $25 million, not the difference between ’18 and ’19 tags ($10 million). The Steelers won’t, in all likelihood, tag him again because they have zero interest in committing $25 million to a RB, especially when James Connor has been dominating as he has.

      Business is business. Did he give up a lot of money this season? Undoubtedly. But he’s making the long-term play and holding out for a larger guaranteed deal. Smart business decision because at least one NFL team will severely overpay him. And it only takes one…

  5. Edmund Dantes

    Great running backs are easy to find these days, especially with a great O Line. 50% of the backs in the NFL would be successful behind their line. Bell is a distraction, whether they say so or not, while I love this drama in Pitt, the Super Bowl is won without him all the time. I’d have cut his dumb ass… While he has the right to do this, I hope he manages his money well, because it goes away easy and one day he might realize with cost of living and inflation that it’s not as much as he thought at the time. If it weren’t for football, he’d be another schmuck like the rest of us.

    • tsolid

      Bell hasn’t had a news conference, hasn’t communicated with the media or the ownership, so HOW is he a distraction? By being silent?? That’s an interesting take

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