Steelers, Le'Veon Bell fail to reach deal by deadline

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The two-time All-Pro will play this upcoming season under the franchise tag.

Pittsburgh could be on the hook for a much larger payout to Bell next season if he performs for a full and healthy season anywhere near the level he played at a year ago.

Bell will be ready for the start of training camp, although it is not a given he shows up. In fact, it's entirely possible Bell could stay away from the team until mid-to-late August.

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Bell will play the 2017 season at $12.1 million, the average of the salaries of the five highest-paid running backs in the league.

Though, Bell himself has not yet signed the exclusive rights franchise tag tender Pittsburgh handed him during the spring.

Bell's 157 total yards per game last season ranks third all-time for a running back.

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This doesn't mean that Bell won't finish his career in Pittsburgh, as Steelers owner Art Rooney II and GM Kevin Colbert had stated this winter.

After lengthy negotiations that stretched up until Monday's 4 p.m. deadline between the Steelers and Adisa Bakari, Bell's agent, the sides were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension. "We will resume our efforts to address his contract situation following the 2017 season".

If Bell falters in 2017, the Steelers spent a year getting leverage and the services of one of the most unsafe offensive weapons in the sport they both play.

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The Steelers entered July with around $16.1 million in salary-cap space, according to NFLPA records.

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