Le'Veon Bell says he would sit out over franchise tag

Would Le'Veon Bell really retire after this season

Would Le'Veon Bell really retire after this season

It's a tremendous salary for a running back, but it might not be sustainable for the Steelers to pay him close to that rate going forward.

"I've made a lot of money, I'm happy where I'm at, I've got a good family - I don't really need to play football", said Bell, who has made around $16 million for his career.

Bell said he would "probably" walk away from the game if he skipped 2018.

"I want to be here, finish my career here", Bell said. "That's the only thing (left) I wanted to do", he said.

"I knew what to expect from myself, even if others didn't expect it", Bell said. "I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at". His cap hit for the same amount was almost $2 million more than the next highest-paid back.

Pittsburgh can tag Bell again next season at a projected cost of more than $14 million.

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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. In fact, the spotlight might just fuel Bell even more.

If Bell continues to insist he won't play under the franchise tag, the Steelers will have a tough decision to make. He held out until September 4 before officially signing the contract, missing virtually all of Pittsburgh's preseason preparations. It's an unlikely scenario, but Bell is keeping his options open, as he should. But they also could be getting the most out of him now before shipping him out before the law of diminishing returns catches up to him. Bell sat out virtually all of training camp this summer before returning to the team September 1. There's no denying that he's one of the top skill position players in the NFL.

Bell had 406 touches in 15 games this season and was on pace for the 13th-most touches for a season in National Football League history if he played in the regular-season finale (coach Mike Tomlin rested several starters).

Despite missing 18 games over that stretch because of injuries and suspensions, Bell has averaged 24.9 touches per game. There are no guarantees that the Steelers will get to the AFC Championship to face presumably the New England Patriots.

That might drop his value to a Day 2 or Day 3 pick. The Steelers are going to franchise tag him. Bell reportedly turned down a two-year deal that was worth up to $30 million last year. 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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