There is no way Le’Veon Bell will hit the open market this offseason, as the Pittsburgh Steelers will reportedly use the franchise tag to keep him locked up.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports the franchise will use the tag, which is set to be above $12 million for running backs in 2017. This tool is being used to give the two sides an opportunity to work out a long-term deal.
Bell has some red flags in the form of suspensions due to marijuana use. He was suspended for a second year in a row this season, earning a three-year ban to start the year. He reportedly missed “several” drug tests, despite his protests to the contrary.
Despite his off-field issue with pot, Bell is undeniably one of the NFL’s preeminent offensive weapons. Despite playing in just 12 games this year, he racked up 1,884 yards from scrimmage while scoring nine touchdowns.
He’s an invaluable weapon in both the rushing and passing games for Pittsburgh, and it’s not surprising the Steelers plan on using the franchise tag to keep him from hitting the open market.