Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network is reporting that the Steelers are “heavy into negotiations” with franchise RB Le’Veon Bell regarding a long-term contract extension.
According to Kinkhabwala, there’s a “very good chance” this contract will set the market for running backs once it’s agreed to finalized.
The Steelers officially used the exclusive franchise tag on Bell this past Monday, but the team has said that they would like to get a long-term deal in place that will allow him to continue his career in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.
The franchise tag is projected to run Steelers $11.789 million fully guaranteed for the 2017 season. Although, this move will not prevent the two sides from working on a long-term extension ahead of the July deadline to negotiate with franchise players.
Bell, 25, is a former second-round pick of the Steelers back in 2013. He played out the final year of his four-year, $4,120,600 rookie contract that included a $1,376,800 signing bonus and was in position to be one of the best players in this year’s free agent market.
In 2016, Bell appeared in 12 games and running for 1,268 yards on 261 carries (4.9 YPC) to go along with 75 receptions for 616 yards receiving and three nine total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 1 running back out of 62 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding a new contract for Bell as the news is available.