The transition tag is expected to cost the Steelers between $9.5 million to $14.5 million, depending on what happens in arbitration.
Sources have indicated to Dulac that Steelers HC Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert do not want to go through a third consecutive offseason with Bell being a distraction and have no interest in signing him to a long-term extension or having him return for the 2019 season.
Trading Bell would likely require him to sign an extension with his a team, so he would have some say in the process.
The transition tag would give them the right of first refusal on any offer Bell receives from another team. Although, Pittsburgh would not receive any compensation for him if they declined to match an offer sheet from another team.
Bell reportedly turned down a five-year, $70 million offer from the Steelers that included $33 million guaranteed, so he’ll be looking to top those numbers in free agency.
Bell, 26, 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, but Pittsburgh used their franchise tag on him.
Last year, the Steelers decided to franchise Bell for the second straight year, but he elected to hold out the entire 2018 season and set himself up for free agency in 2019.
In 2017, Bell appeared in 15 games for the Steelers and rushed for 1, 291yards on 321 carries (4 YPC) to go along with 85 receptions for 655 yards receiving and 11 total touchdowns. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the No. 9 running back out of 58 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 100 – 2019 NFL Free Agents list.