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Le’Veon Bell is picking a weird time to threaten retirement


Le'Veon BellDilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

  • Star running back Le’Veon Bell told reporters on
    Thursday that he may sit out or even retire next season if the
    Steelers use the franchise tag on him again.
  • While it’s no surprise Bell feels this way, the timing
    is quite odd, as the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently in the
    middle of the playoff race, and days away from their matchup
    against the Jacksonville Jaguars for a spot in the AFC
    Championship.
  • Bell took to Twitter to make clear that while he meant
    what he said, his sole focus and goal for now is bringing
    another Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

Le’Veon Bell may be in the midst of a playoff push, but he’s
already thinking about next season.

While speaking with reporters before practice on Thursday, Bell
made it clear that he has no interest in the Steelers using their
franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year, saying that
he would even consider sitting out the year or even retirement if
it happens.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely
consider it,” he said, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The franchise tag allows teams to keep a player, who would
otherwise become a free agent, on a one-year deal. While the
franchise tag comes with a salary among the highest for a player
playing that position, it also comes with risk for the player
since there is no long-term security against injury. The Steelers
used their franchise tag on Bell this year, leading him to sit
out for the entire 2017 preseason.

If tagged for a second consecutive year, Bell might decline
to play — he knows what he’s worth, and sounds unwilling to
settle for less.

“Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them.
I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell said. “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.”

The franchise tag puts Bell in a poor position because it
prevents him from cashing in on the most valuable seasons of his
career. As one of the best running backs in the league, Bell
could secure a lucrative long-term contract that was front-loaded
with cash that would allow him to make his worth while he’s still
a dominant force in the NFL.

“It will eventually come down to me playing on the tag or
not,” Bell said. “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. If I was a free agent and
they let me go, be a free agent, then yeah, I’m going to go
explore free agency, test the market.”

While it’s no surprise that Bell is looking to maximize his
earning potential, the timing of the news is quite odd. The
Pittsburgh Steelers are in the middle of a playoff race, with
their first postseason game set for this Sunday against the
Jacksonville Jaguars.

From Bell’s position, it’s something of a power move, especially
if he plays well through the postseason. But it’s likely the
Steelers’ front officeis not at all pleased with the timing. That
said, after the news started to make the rounds, Bell was quick
to clarify that despite his comments about the 2018 season, he
was focused on one thing — helping the Steelers to another Super
Bowl victory.

Bell will get the chance to prove it on Sunday, when the Steelers
host the Jaguars with a trip to the AFC Championship on the line.


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