The NFL has seen a spike in recent years of players being hit with the franchise tag multiple years in a row. The Rams were unafraid to use it twice on Trumaine Johnson. Kirk Cousins has been playing on the franchise tag with the Redskins since 1865. And Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell could be facing a second straight year of the tag. Unless he just refuses to play.
Bell, speaking to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, said he would consider sitting out the 2018 season or even retiring (?!?) from football if the Steelers decided to use the tag on him for a second year in a row.
"I hope it doesn't come to that, but I would definitely consider it," Bell said Thursday, ahead of the Steelers Divisional Round game against the Jaguars.
Last year, the Steelers made the easy decision to place the franchise tag on Bell. The two sides Bell and the Steelers entered into negotiations that lasted deep into the offseason, but things fell apart ahead of the mid-July deadline to sign players who were given the franchise tag.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has been reporting for months now Bell is all but certain to get hit with the tag this offseason. Bell is arguably the best running back in football; the Steelers aren't letting him just waltz into free agency.
The problem for Bell is the amount of money he wants. Bell was so adamant about being paid as BOTH a top running back and a top wide receiver that he was willing to leave $18 million in guaranteed money in 2017 alone on the table. That's a lot of cheese.
Bell believes taking anything less than market value will ultimately end up with him devaluing the running back position.
"Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I'm not going to settle for anything," Bell told Fowler. "I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at."
Now it sounds like he's willing to miss additional time as necessary. The Steelers are going to franchise tag him. And they're going to offer him a contract that looks something like last year but also incorporates the notion that Bell played all year long and dealt with the touches that come with a full season of being a feature back. Bell led the league in rushing with 321 rushing attempts and also caught 85 passes. He was a workhorse this year for a Steelers offense that was high octane but oftentimes inconsistent.
Pittsburgh is not going to let him just walk away, which means he's going to have to either a) accept their offer, b) play on the tag again, c) holdout for a lengthy period or d) retire. The guess here is that ultimately he ends up doing either (a) or (b).
Let the offseason posturing begin early.
Source : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/leveon-bell-to-consider-sitting-out-2018-or-even-retiring-if-given-franchise-tag-again/714