Le'Veon Bell pondering retirement if Steelers franchise tag him again

Kristopher Nichols
January 14, 2018

The Steelers star is now getting ready for his team's first playoff game of the season, a divisional round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in hope that this will lead to the team winning their first Super Bowl since the 2008 season. That number would be roughly $14.5 million for 2018, Bell's age-26 campaign.

In speaking to ESPN, Bell said, "I hope it doesn't come to that, but I would definitely consider it".

Bell said he would "probably be done" with football if he did sit out 2018. Among running backs under contract for next year, Devonta Freeman's average salary of $8.25 million is No. 1. But Bell turned it down, believing he was worth more.

"Just get the numbers straight exactly where we want them", Bell told Fowler. "I know what I do and what I bring to the table".

It's hard to argue with Bell's logic. As it was, his 406 touches were the second-most of any National Football League player since 2009. He carried the ball 321 times this season on top of 85 receptions. That might not be something the Steelers, who currently have more than $178 million allocated now to 39 players next season.

At the same time, Bell and his teammates are right to feel a little bit of pressure to strike while the iron is hot. He has been a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his five years out of Michigan State. Bell has wanted a massive contract, citing the desire to help all running backs in an era that has devalued the position.

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Well, after a career full of highlight reels and plenty of talent left in the tank, Bell is looking for money.

Bell wants the Steelers to value what he provides. "They tag me again, it will be me (saying), 'OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?' That's what it comes down to". I feel I can do that. These comments went viral, and Bell took to Twitter in an attempt to defuse the situation.

If there's a silver lining for the Steelers, it's that Bell doesn't appear eager to leave Pittsburgh.

"I want to be here, finish my career here", Bell said. But he indicated Thursday that's not the kind of deal he's interested in.

If Bell continues to insist he won't play under the franchise tag, the Steelers will have a tough decision to make. For Pittsburgh to advance to the AFC Championship, Bell will have to run all over the Jaguars defense. Sure, there's a very good reason for them to keep feeding the ball to Bell as they have - he's one of the best, if not the best, backs of his generation.

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