Bell will play under the exclusive franchise tag worth $12.12 million in 2017.
Bell has not yet signed his franchise tender. In the wake of a couple of knee injuries through his first four seasons, Bell underwent surgery in March to fix a groin problem. And while he's expected to do so, he's under no obligation to attend training camp in the mean time. The two sides had until today at 4 p.m.to reach a long-term deal. According to Rapoport, Pittsburgh made a "very lucrative, good-faith offer" to Bell that would have paid him more than $12 million per season. The Steelers historically structure deals with little guaranteed beyond the first year.
Bell had the leverage to surpass LeSean McCoy's five-year, $40 million deal with the Buffalo Bills. The 25-year-old rusher is the best dual-threat back in the NFL.
NFL Network ranked Bell the No. 9 overall player in its 2017 rankings. Bell's patient, pause-at-the-line running style has become his trademark and has caught the attention of many tailback peers around the league.