For the second successive year the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, meaning he will play under the franchise tag again in 2018.
Star running back Bell and the Steelers were unable to agree terms before Monday's 16:00 EST deadline.
Bell was reportedly chasing a contract worth $17 million annually but will instead play for $14.5 million under the tender.
He wrote on Twitter: "To all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler... both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times... to the fans that had hope, I'm sorry we let you down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date..."
to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let youu down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date...— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 16, 2018
Bell's agent Adisa Bakari, as quoted by ESPN's Adam Schefter, indicated 2018 could be Bell's final year in Pittsburgh, saying: "His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler. It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player."
In a statement, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said: "Even though we could not reach a long-term contract agreement with Le'Veon Bell, we are excited he will be with the team in 2018. We worked very hard to find common ground, but we were unable to accomplish that prior to today's deadline. Le'Veon will play this season under the Exclusive Franchise Tag designation.
"After the 2018 season is completed, we again will attempt to work out a long-term contract with Le'Veon in the hope that he will continue his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Statement from GM Kevin Colbert on Le’Veon Bell: pic.twitter.com/APTMajqdbF— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 16, 2018
The Steelers used the tag on Bell for the second straight year this offseason, prompting him to so far repeat his stance from last year, when he sat out workouts and training camp before signing the tender prior to the start of the regular season.
It remains to be seen if Bell will skip training camp once again. Some reports have suggested he may even sit out part of the regular season.
Bell, 26, finished with 321 carries for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games last season.
The Steelers are scheduled to report for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, next week.
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