The Steelers might still place the transition tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, but it is likely with the intention of trading him and not because they want him for another season, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Teams cannot place a transition or franchise tag on a player until Feb. 19 and have 15 days (until March 5) to decide if they want to use the designation. The transition tag, which is expected to have a value of approximately $9.5 million to $14.5 million for one season, pending arbitration, would give the Steelers a chance to match any offer Bell receives on the open market.
But sources indicate coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert do not want to go through a third consecutive year of dealing with Bell’s disruptive situation and have no desire to sign him to a long-term deal or place the transition tag on him with the intention of keeping him for one more season.
Ideally, the Steelers would find a team interested in Bell, place the transition tag on him, sign him and trade him to that interested team the same day. That way, they are guaranteed some form of compensation for the former All-Pro running back, whether a player or a draft choice.
But that would involve the Steelers getting some type of cooperation from Bell and his agent, Adisa Bakari, to work out a deal — an unlikely possibility given what has transpired the past two seasons.
If the Steelers place the transition tag on Bell and he receives an offer sheet from another team, they have seven days to match that offer — something they don’t intend to do, according to sources. If the Steelers decline to match the offer, they would receive no compensation in return.
Under the guidelines of the collective bargaining agreement, the Steelers are not permitted to trade Bell for at least one year to a team that submitted an offer sheet.