Le'Veon Bell says next year is 'irrelevant' after franchise tag comments


The Steelers' star running back told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that if he is tagged again he is prepared to sit out all of the 2018 season and perhaps even retire.

Bell, a former Michigan State standout, was on a franchise tag in the 2017 season and made $12.1 million. He had 321 carries for 1,291 yards and 85 receptions for 655 yards in the regular season, and the Steelers are preparing to play the Jaguars in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game Sunday at Heinz Field. Because, if Bell truly couldn't care less about his contract situation, it's highly unlikely that he would have brought it up to begin with. It's a contest in which Bell, who was rested in Week 17, will once again head Pittsburgh's ground game, and that's his (and the team's) current focus.

"[I want them to] value me", Bell told ESPN. After that, they have until July 16 to work out a long-term contract. The three-time Pro Bowler wrote that his main priority is winning a Super Bowl right now and that "what happens next year is irrelevant to my goals".

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Bell added he "hope [s] it doesn't come to that" regarding a possible stalemate between him and the Steelers.

"Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them", Bell said Thursday. I'm not going to settle for anything. Bell said he would consider retiring, and if he did sit out a year, there likely wouldn't be a comeback in his future. Bell already turned down a deal that reportedly would have given him $30 million guaranteed over the first two seasons. "They tag me again, it will be me (saying), 'OK, do I want to play on the tag or do I not want to play on the tag?' That's what it comes down to. I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at".

Bell's earning power may never be higher than it is this offseason, so it's little surprise he's willing to do whatever it takes to get as much money as possible-whether from the Steelers or another team. Perhaps it was his way of trying to show how committed he is to wanting to stay in Pittsburgh for the long-haul and win it all this year.