Steelers GM: Le’Veon Bell long-term contract will be addressed after draft

Le'Veon Bell is likely to receive the franchise tag once again

The Pittsburgh Steelers would love to get running back Le’Veon Bell signed to a long-term deal, but it’s not going to be addressed until after the 2017 NFL Draft.

General manager Kevin Colbert addressed the media Sunday and said draft preparation is “more urgent business,” per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and that Bell’s contract situation would be addressed in the spring and summer.

Colbert also gave an update on Bell’s health. The running back underwent groin surgery earlier this year. Colbert said Bell is “right on schedule” in his rehab and that the focus is to have him ready for the 2017 season.

Pittsburgh used the exclusive franchise tag to keep Bell from hitting free agency this year. He’ll earn roughly $12.1 million this year, all of which is fully guaranteed barring a long-term agreement between himself and the Steelers.

In just 12 games last season, Bell totaled 1,884 yards and nine touchdowns, despite playing in just 12 games.

The dynamic running back is definitely a player Pittsburgh wants to hang onto for the long haul. At this time, he, along with perhaps David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals, represents the finest the NFL has to offer at this position.

His ability to make game-changing plays on the ground and through the air is one of the big reasons the Steelers made it to the AFC Championship Game. And the fact he was unable to play in that game had a lot to do with the team’s inability to hang with the New England Patriots.